Environmental Response specialist career

Spotlight on … Lisa Laurie, Response Specialist trainee, Environmental Response, Newfoundland and Labrador

Lisa enjoys the challenges of working in a variety of environmental conditions and the excitement of responding to an oil spill.

Each day brings an array of different tasks and challenges, including servicing and maintaining response equipment, responding to incidents, carrying out beach surveys, operating Environmental Response vessels, and assessing marine oil spills. “It’s the variety of tasks that keep my job interesting,” says Lisa.


What is a response specialist?

As a Response Specialist with the Canadian Coast Guard, you maintain and operate pollution response equipment with the Environmental Response section. You monitor and manage marine oil spills in Canadian waters. You are also part of the national response team, which can be deployed to a spill anywhere in Canada or around the world.


Your responsibilities as a Response Specialist include:

  • responding to marine pollution incidents
  • deploying and operating pollution countermeasures equipment
  • developing response, emergency preparedness, and training plans
  • monitoring and evaluating industry responses to environmental emergencies
  • assessing pollution incidents
  • maintaining specialized pollution spill clean-up equipment
  • delivering oil spill response training

Where you will work

Positions may be based at National Headquarters (in Ottawa, Ontario), or in one of the Coast Guard’s three regions:

  • Western Region
  • Central and Arctic Region
  • Atlantic Region

Career opportunities

  • Response Specialist in various regions
  • various positions in the federal public service

Income and benefits

A Response Specialist position offers a competitive salary and benefits. The average annual salary ranges from roughly $52,000 to $113,000 (based on experience and time worked). Please see the collective agreement for current salary rates.

Hours of work

Response Specialists usually work a 37.5 hour week, from Monday to Friday. You may be asked to be on standby on weekends or to work longer hours during emergency situations.

Is this career right for me?

These qualities and interests are essential for this career:

  • excellent planning and organizational skills
  • interest in science and environmental issues
  • interest in working in a marine environment
  • strong communication skills
  • problem-solving skills
  • adaptability
  • interest in traveling around the region

Training and education requirements

To become a Response Specialist, you need to complete a three-year program in mechanical engineering technology or marine environmental technology from a recognized institute, like the Marine Institute or the College of the North Atlantic. You could also complete the journeymen/millwright program from the College of the North Atlantic or a private institution.

During your studies, you should seek out summer jobs where you can participate in oil spill response. Working with a government department or response organization will provide you with experience and allow you to see if this is an area you want to pursue.


To join the Canadian Coast Guard as a Response Specialist, you must meet all Requirements. You must then apply through jobs.gc.ca (do not apply directly to the Coast Guard).

Please note: Résumés and applications are accepted only when a recruitment poster is advertised on jobs.gc.ca. Applications are not kept on file for future recruitment selection processes.