Canadian Coast Guard needs new recruits

The Canadian Coast Guard has launched a recruitment drive to fill well over 500 positions at sea and ashore. 

The coast guard says the high demand is due to retirements, new ships, new lifeboat stations, and funding from the federal government's $1.5 billion dollar Ocean Protection Plan.

"We're certainly going to bring in a lot more people in the next 24 months shall we say, than we have over the previous number of years," says the Canadian Coast Guard's David Heap.

British Columbians can expect around 150 jobs around the West Coast, in part thanks to four new lifeboat stations and new vessels, Heap says.

Diverse opportunities

With over 4,500 employees across the country, and only two-thirds of them staffed at sea, there are a wide variety of positions open, he notes.

"It's not just going to college and becoming an officer onboard a ship, it might also be becoming a radio operator, or it might be joining us as a program officer who responds to oil spills, or a program officer that does aids to navigation review, or perhaps an administrator in business."

While Heap says some positions are more competitive than others, they are looking for applicants with diverse backgrounds and skill sets.

"The coast guard is a place that is very welcoming towards all folks, all walks of life," says Heap. 

The federal agency has been holding job fairs, and is making an effort to appeal to high school students, indigenous communities, trade school students, veterans, other federal employees, and anyone interested in protecting the environment. 

The 45-month officer training program for marine engineering and navigation is one particular area where Heap says recruiters are looking for applicants. Based out of Sydney, Nova Scotia the program only requires a high school diploma and some preparatory courses.  

By the end of the program, graduates will have earned a bachelor of technology in nautical sciences from Cape Breton University, a diploma from the Canadian Coast Guard College, Transport Canada recognized commercial certification as a ship's officer, and continued employment with the Canadian Coast Guard.  However, graduates must accept a placement anywhere in Canada and serve for a period of time. 

Perks of the job

According to the Canadian Coast Guard website, on an average day they save 15 lives, assist 52 people in 27 search and rescue cases, manage the movement of 1,223 vessels, and support eight scientific surveys, among other things.

From cleaning up oil spills to helping with Environment Canada research, Heap says the the coast guard offers employees a chance to keep the coasts safe. 

"It's a never-ending sort of selection I think of really, really interesting jobs to be involved with. So if you want to live on Canada's coast and enjoy the lifestyle and the business of keeping Canada safe it's a fabulous career."