Got your GCSE results? Top tips to plot a course to a maritime career 

Got your GCSE results? Top tips to plot a course to a maritime career 

Whatever your GCSE results today – congratulations. You’ve passed a major milestone in your life. 
Girls celebrate their exam results

You’re probably already thinking about the kind of job you’d like to do, and there is a big choice of opportunities at the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). 

We’re a government organisation which includes HM Coastguard, which runs the UK’s search and rescue operation by the coast and at sea and employs more than 1,000 people at locations from Falmouth in Cornwall to Prestwick in the Shetland Islands. 

Ben Madgwick (21) recalled his own five-year journey from GCSE results day to becoming a Senior Maritime Operations Officer with the MCA, helping to manage emergency responses from the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Fareham. 

He said: “Don't worry too much about specific maritime experience – you’re taught everything you need to know, and you will likely have a lot of transferable skills from your hobbies or school studies that the MCA is looking for. 

Ben Madgwick, Senior Maritime Operations Officer
Ben Madgwick, Senior Maritime Operations Officer

“Even if you don’t know what your long-term goal is, a career in the emergency services, like HM Coastguard, is very rewarding. It’s a great feeling to know you’re making a difference and helping to save people’s lives.   

“There are lots of opportunities for progression in the MCA and across the maritime sector. When I joined HM Coastguard straight out of college aged 18, I never imagined that just over two years later I would be running the operations room covering an area of responsibility across the south coast and North Atlantic which is nearly 500 miles of coast and 1.2-million square miles of sea.” 


Our top tips  

If you’re looking at your GCSE results and wondering if a maritime career might one day be for you, here are some of our top tips: 


Jobs on land, sea and air 

Reckon the maritime sector is just about boats? Think again! Another top tip is to consider the array of roles that an organisation might offer.  

At the MCA, for example, we have jobs as varied as the situations we deal with. It’s not just the frontline rescue and coordination roles with HM Coastguard, we also have jobs in IT, communications, finance, HR, policy-making, and much more.  


Civil Service apprenticeships 

The MCA is part of the Civil Service, made up of thousands of people working in government departments and public agencies all around the UK that help to keep the country running.  

You could join the Civil Service through an apprenticeship: a paid position learning the ropes for a professional accreditation.  

The MCA offers apprenticeships for people already employed here but in other Civil Service branches you could start with an apprenticeship first as a route to landing a job.  

In 2022 over 8,000 people started an apprenticeship qualification in the Civil Service. You can find out more here.


Qualification questions 

You might not be planning to go to university, but that doesn’t close the door on a high-flying career at the MCA. 

Entry-level jobs include joining HM Coastguard and training to help run lifesaving operations from our Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres around the UK.  

From there, anything is possible. 

Other entry-level roles around the organisation are at the Registry of Shipping and Seaman in Cardiff and the Seafarer Training and Certification Branch in Southampton. There is also further training available to expand your skills towards new opportunities. 


A warm welcome 

When you think of who works in the maritime industry, does a particular type of person spring to mind?  

If so, don’t be deterred. Things have changed and at the MCA we welcome applications from all communities, and we don’t discriminate. Our last top tip is to forget the stereotypes – we’re interested to hear from you, regardless of your background. 

• To see the kind of jobs currently on offer at the MCA, click here


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