Find out about the learning and development opportunities available for RNLI volunteers. 

Two male RNLI crew members are standing on the deck of an all-weather lifeboat during a training exercise.

RNLI / Eric Woolcott


As well as receiving a warm welcome into the RNLI, you will receive a full induction and any relevant training when you start your volunteering role. It’s important that you receive all the information you need to have a successful and positive experience volunteering at the RNLI.

The RNLI has a blended learning approach, which means that learning and development can take place in several ways – face to face, including shadowing others, written or online. 


Your volunteer manager will carry out your induction and give you a pack. Or you can download our Induction Pack now. This is a great way to start learning more!

The pack includes: 

Your induction may be spread over a variable time period depending on what volunteer role you have and will include: introducing you to the team and any other relevant people; explaining any safety, health and environment requirements to ensure your safety and that of those around you; and helping you understand the values and policies of the RNLI. 

Role specific learning

Your volunteer manager will also outline any initial learning you will need so that you can feel confident to carry out your role. This may be in the form of handbooks, face-to-face or online learning, or shadowing other volunteers in your team. You may also have a buddy who will help you settle in.

Operational volunteers have a competency-based framework to support their learning. Head to our lifeboat crew training page to find out more.

Depending on your volunteer role, you may have access to the RNLI’s online learning area, the Learning Zone. Your volunteer manager will be able to explain what is available for your volunteer role.

Ongoing development

Throughout your time as a volunteer, you may identify further opportunities for learning to help with your role. Please discuss these with your volunteer manager. 

As you become more experienced in your role, you will be in an ideal position to support new volunteers as they start their roles and help them with their learning. Your experience in this is invaluable to the RNLI and will enhance your volunteer experience too.

Many of our volunteers have more than one role within the RNLI. They enjoy the variety of different ways to support the organisation. There are lots of ways you can support the organisation. In particular, check out Quick ways to volunteer, as many of these roles work well with other roles. 

It’s also important to us that you are enjoying your volunteer role. There may come a time when you would like to consider other opportunities. Keep up to date with any new volunteer roles available and have a chat with your volunteer manager about further ways to volunteer.

RNLI College

If you would like to find out more about RNLI training, why not visit or stay at RNLI College, Poole, Dorset? This is available to non-volunteers too. Guided tours of the college and the All-weather Lifeboat Centre (where new boats are constructed and maintained) are available free to all resident guests (or for a small charge if you are a daily visitor). Head to our RNLI College pages to find out more.

Also based at the college is the Learning Resources Centre, which has a wealth of information and staff there are happy to offer advice on learning, development and relevant resources and help with using our online learning systems if required.