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Search and rescue worker

Alternative titles for this job include Specialist rescue worker, Rescue team member

Specialist search and rescue workers help locate and rescue people from hazardous environments.

Average salary (a year)


Typical hours (a week)

Variable variable

You could work

days / nights / weekends on call

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a search and rescue worker

You can get into this work through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • volunteering
  • applying directly


You can do a college course in outdoor education, rock climbing or first aid to learn some of the skills you'll need to join a rescue team.

You'll still need experience in hill walking and map reading if you want to volunteer for a team after completing your course.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More Information


You could do a level 4 Specialist rescue operative apprenticeship. This would give you some of the skills needed to work in rescue operations at height or underground, in workplaces like mines, water and power stations.

Entry requirements

There are no set entry requirements but it may help you to get in if you have:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) and A levels, or equivalent, for a higher or degree apprenticeship

More Information


You can gain relevant experience via voluntary search and rescue teams such as Mountain Rescue England and Wales or British Cave Rescue Council. Mountain Rescue England and Wales hold recruitment days during the year, which involve going out with team members who assess your suitability for training.

You'll be expected to have experience in hill walking, reading maps and using a compass. You'll also need knowledge of the rescue team's operational area. Other skills like climbing and first aid will be useful, though not essential.

If you're selected, you'll be given training over a 12-month probationary period. It will include:

  • search and rescue skills
  • first aid
  • casualty and stretcher handling
  • survival techniques
  • navigation, GPS and radio communications
  • working with helicopter teams

After 12 months, your colleagues will decide whether you're ready to join them as a full team member.

Direct Application

You may be able to apply directly to specialist rescue worker roles if you've got a lot of experience of search and rescue work, for example from serving in the armed forces, the emergency services or as a voluntary search and rescue worker.

Industries which employ specialist rescue workers include construction, mining, petrochemical, water and energy

More Information

Career tips

For the voluntary search and rescue work you'll be expected to commit a certain amount of your time each month to training and call-outs.

You'll also have to supply most of your own equipment, which must meet the rescue team's safety standards.

Further information

You can find out more about becoming a voluntary search and rescue worker from Mountain Rescue and the British Cave Rescue Council.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • a desire to help people
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • physical fitness and endurance
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You'll need to:

  • be over 18 years of age
  • have a good level of fitness
  • have a full driving licence
  • be able to swim

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

In your day-to-day duties you may:

  • conduct risk assessments
  • identify and report hazards
  • respond to emergency call-outs
  • give first aid to injured people
  • work closely with other rescue teams, emergency services and air ambulance
  • check and maintain equipment
  • operate monitoring and rescue equipment
  • train others in specialist rescue techniques and hazard prevention
  • attend regular training sessions to keep your skills up to date

Depending on your specialism, you may;

  • work in confined spaces like underground mines
  • at height like on wind turbines, cranes or platforms
  • underground or underwater like in sewers

Working environment

You could work in remote rural areas.

Your working environment may be outdoors in all weathers and physically and emotionally demanding.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

You could specialise in particular industries such as construction and take further specialist training, like crane rescue.

With experience, you could become a rescue team leader, operations co-ordinator or training officer

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

We can't find any apprenticeship vacancies in England for a search and rescue worker 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

Outdoor Adventure Education

  • Start date: 05 September 2022
  • Location: Waterlooville

Paediatric First Aid

  • Start date: 12 March 2022
  • Location: Oakham

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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