Coastguard watch officer

Coastguard watch officers patrolling in a helicopter


Coastguard watch officers patrol and survey coast and sea regions to prevent accidents, as well as perform search and rescue missions in the event of an emergency. They react to emergency calls, advise on safety procedures, and prevent accidents and illegal activity at sea. Coastguard watch officers investigate shipping activities and aid during pollution incidents and in flood relief.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to coastguard watch officer:

coastguard rescue officer
coastguard officer
maritime and coastguard officer

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma is generally required to work as a coastguard watch officer.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Coastguard watch officer is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Coastguard watch officer career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to coastguard watch officer.

emergency response worker
street warden
civil enforcement officer
prison officer
juvenile correctional officer

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of coastguard watch officer. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of coastguard watch officer with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

immigration officer
fire inspector
fire protection technician
court bailiff
aviation data communications manager

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of coastguard watch officer.

  • First response: The procedures of pre-hospital care for medical emergencies, such as first aid, resuscitation techniques, legal and ethical issues, patient assessment, trauma emergencies.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of coastguard watch officer.

  • Apply first response: Respond to medical or trauma emergencies and care for the patient in a manner compliant with health and safety regulations, assessing the legal and ethical issues of the situation, and provide proper pre-hospital care.
  • Perform risk analysis: Identify and assess factors that may jeopardise the success of a project or threaten the organisation’s functioning. Implement procedures to avoid or minimise their impact.
  • Read maps: Read maps effectively.
  • Advise on safety improvements: Provide relevant recommendations following the conclusion of an investigation; ensure that recommendations are duly considered and where appropriate acted upon.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Supervise crew: Supervise and observe the behaviour of employees.
  • Identify security threats: Identify security threats during investigations, inspections, or patrols, and perform the necessary actions to minimise or neutralise the threat.
  • Estimate damage: Estimate damage in case of accidents or natural disasters.
  • Assist in maritime rescue operations: Provide assistance during maritime rescue operations.
  • Coordinate rescue missions: Coordinate rescue missions during the event of a disaster or during an accident, ensure that all possible methods are being used to ensure the safety of the people being rescued, and that the search is as efficient and thorough as possible.
  • Ensure law application: Ensure the laws are followed, and where they are broken, that the correct measures are taken to ensure compliance to the law and law enforcement.
  • Develop contingency plans for emergencies: Compose procedures outlining specific actions to be taken in the event of an emergency, taking into account all the risks and dangers that could be involved, ensuring that the plans comply with safety legislation and represent the safest course of action.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of coastguard watch officer. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Law enforcement: The different organisations involved in law enforcement, as well as the laws and regulations in law enforcement procedures.
  • Influence of winds and currents in the steering of ships: Know what influence current, wind strength, and wind direction have on a vessel’s navigation and manoeuvring abilities.
  • Pollution legislation: Be familiar with European and National legislation regarding the risk of pollution.
  • Pollution prevention: The processes used to prevent pollution: precautions to pollution of the environment, procedures to counter pollution and associated equipment, and possible measures to protect the environment.
  • Flood remediation equipment: The operation of the necessary tools and equipment used in flood damage and remediation activities, such as pumping flooded properties.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of coastguard watch officer. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Evacuate people from flooded areas: Evacuate people from areas heavily affected by floods and flood damage, and ensure they reach a safe place where they have access to medical treatment if necessary.
  • Undertake inspections: Undertake safety inspections in areas of concern to identify and report potential hazards or security breaches; take measures to maximise safety standards.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Dispose waste: Dispose waste in accordance with legislation, thereby respecting environmental and company responsibilities.
  • Prevent sea pollution: Organize and monitor environment protection applying the regulations for pollution prevention at sea.
  • Develop flood remediation strategies: Develop plans and design equipment for the prevention of floods and efficient aid in the event of a flood, by assessing the risks, identifying improvements in existing strategies, and designing new strategies in flood remediation.
  • Treat flood damage: Treat damage caused by floods by using the necessary tools and equipment, and ensuring the safety of the public during remediation activities.
  • Maintain ship logs: Maintain written records of events and activities on a ship
  • Provide advice on breaches of regulation: Advise on preventive and corrective actions; correct any breaches of or non-compliance with legal regulations.
  • Check official documents: Check an individuals’ official documentation, such as driver’s licenses and identification, to ensure compliance with legal regulations, and to identify and assess individuals.
  • Assist in ship maintenance: Contribute to shipboard maintenance and repair using painting, lubrication and cleaning materials and equipment. Execute routine maintenance and repair procedures. Dispose safely waste materials. Apply, maintain and use hand and power tools.
  • Perform search and rescue missions: Assist in fighting natural and civic disasters, such as forest fires, floods and road accidents. Conduct search-and-rescue missions.
  • Identify risk of flooding: Identify the areas which are most at risk to be damaged by floods, such as areas close to rivers, as well as identifying the events which would cause floods such as changes in the weather.
  • Report pollution incidents: Examine the extent of the damage and consequences when an incident causes pollution, and report it to the relevant institution following pollution reporting procedures.
  • Maintain operational communications: Maintain communications between different departments of an organisation, between the staff, or during specific operations or missions, to ensure that the operation or mission is successful, or that the organisation functions smoothly.
  • Patrol areas: Patrol a designated area, watch out for and respond to suspicious and dangerous situations, and communicate with emergency response organisations.
  • Operate an emergency communication system: Efficiently operate common communication systems used in emergencies, such as base station mobile transmitters and receivers, portable transmitters and receivers, repeaters, cellular phones, pagers, automated vehicle locators, and satellite phones as required.

ISCO group and title

5419 – Protective services workers not elsewhere classified

  1. Coastguard watch officer – ESCO
  2. Featured image: Photo by The Marksman on Unsplash
Last updated on November 19, 2022

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