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Coastguards direct search and rescue operations, watch over shipping and investigate illegal shipping activities and pollution incidents.

The Work

You could be:


The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on where you work. The details are for coastguards at the start of their career. Pay for Coastguard Watch Assistants (CWA) is around £17,000 to £18,500 a year, and Coastguard Watch Officers (CWO) earn around £21,000 to £24,000 a year. You would also receive a shift allowance.

A Coastguard Watch Manager earns around £25,500 to £32,000 (plus shift allowance). You might earn more through performance bonuses or if you are based in the islands. Coastguard rescue officer (CRO) is a voluntary role, however you are entitled to claim expenses for training and responding to emergencies.


Coastguards work for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), a UK government agency. It has 11 HM Coastguard Operations Centres around the coast of Britain from Shetland in the north to Falmouth in the south. Three are in Scotland: Aberdeen, Shetland (Lerwick) and Stornoway.

Workforce Employment Status

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Getting In

You can start in one of two ways.

You could also apply to be a voluntary coastguard rescue officer (CRO) to gain experience, which may be of benefit when paid jobs become available. Whichever level you start at you must note the following information.

CWAs are recruited locally and you should contact your nearest coastguard station if you are interested. Vacancies are advertised on the MCA website. CWO posts are advertised in local Jobcentre Plus offices, on the Find a Job website (formerly Universal Jobmatch) and on the MCA website.

Workforce Education Levels (UK)

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Job Outlook Scotland


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Job Outlook Scotland and UK

1 %
  United Kingdom
0.6 %

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What Does it Take?

You need to have:

You need to be able to:


Getting On

More Information

The MCA Region called 'Scotland and Northern Ireland' covers almost 19,500 nautical miles of coastline.

The coast is divided into 3 sectors:

Coastguard stations in Scotland are at Aberdeen, Stornoway and Shetland (Lerwick). Addresses are on the MCA website.


The following organisations may be able to provide further information.

Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Tel: 0300 300 9990
Twitter: @RNLI

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