Coastguards help prevent the loss of life at sea by supporting search and rescue operations.

Average salary (a year)

£17,000 Starter


£32,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

41 to 43 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become a Coastguard

You can get into this job through:

  • working towards this role
  • volunteering
  • applying directly


It may be possible to work your way into this role by starting out as a watch assistant and applying for promotion when you've got more experience.

You'll need to have literacy, numeracy and IT skills as well as seagoing experience.

Volunteering and experience

You could work your way into this job by becoming a coastguard rescue officer volunteer.

Direct application

You can apply directly to employers if you have some of the relevant skills and knowledge needed for this role.

You'll need a good standard of literacy and numeracy, good hearing and eyesight to become a watch officer.

Employers will often ask for extensive seagoing experience. This could be from:

  • the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force or the Merchant Navy
  • other activities involving boat work and navigation
  • experience as a coastguard rescue officer volunteer

More information

Further information

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency has more information about becoming a coastguard.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • knowledge of teaching and the ability to design courses
  • the ability to work well with others
  • being able to use a computer terminal or hand-held device may be beneficial for this job.

Restrictions and requirements

You'll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • pass a medical check
  • pass a fitness test
  • have a full UK or EU driving licence, held for at least 12 months

You'll need to live within 30 minutes of the coastguard rescue location.

You must be prepared to work anywhere in the UK

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

Your duties might include:

  • handling emergency calls
  • monitoring radios and satellite communications
  • providing information on safety at sea
  • recommending safety procedures to skippers of small craft
  • providing weather reports
  • monitoring distress signals and supervising or assisting in some search and rescue missions.

Working environment

You could work in an office.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear a uniform.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could be promoted from coastguard watch assistant to watch officer, then to watch manager or section manager.

Training opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a Coastguard right now.

The Find an apprenticeship service can help you with your search, send alerts when new apprenticeships become available and has advice on how to apply.

Courses In England

Extended Diploma in Public Services (QCF) (Ambulance, Police, Fire, Prison, Customs, Armed Forces, Public Services)

  • Provider: Barking & Dagenham College
  • Start date: 04 September 2019
  • Location: Romford

Public Services - Diploma In Public Services (Qcf)

  • Start date: 02 September 2019
  • Location: Turnford

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