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How to become a Lifeguard

What is a lifeguard?

A lifeguard’s job is to ensure the safety of a swimming pool and everyone using it. The role involves working with the public at all times and being able to react quickly to any potential danger that may arise around the water. It is a very important job and one which provides an important service to the wider public.

What are the best things about being a lifeguard?

Lifeguards offer an important public service and training to become one also enables you to pick up a first aid certificate as part of the qualification process, which is another very useful skill to have. Generally they’re young and working alongside a group of like-minded people so it presents a great opportunity to make friends and have fun at work. There are also flexible work hours on offer, opportunity for overtime and the pay (particularly for younger lifeguards) is very attractive.

What qualifications do I need to become a lifeguard?

A National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is required for anyone looking to become a lifeguard. The course involves 36 hours of training and assessment and is provided by the Royal Life Saving Society. The qualification lasts two years before it needs to be renewed and you can begin work as soon as it’s obtained. Courses are available at pools up and down the country throughout the year.  Some companies will also offer free training new recruits.

What skills/experience will an employer look for?

In terms of swimming ability, a budding lifeguard will need to be a strong swimmer; able to dive to the floor of the pool, swim 50 metres in less than a minute, swim 100 metres continuously and tread water for 30 seconds. They’ll also need to be fairly athletic and physically fit.

Excellent communication skills and the ability to work under stress as well experience in a customer service role dealing with both children and members if he public would be beneficial.

Who might employ a lifeguard?

-Leisure centres




-Holiday resorts

-Cruise ships

-Activity Centres

-Children’s Holiday Cenres

-Educational Activity Centres

What salary can I expect?

Lifeguards can expect to earn from about £11,000 to £20,000. Many jobs are part-time and can sometimes be paid up to £20/ hour. This can sometimes be supplemented by taking on additional jobs and responsibilities at the venue, particularly if the lifeguard has other relevant qualifications. eg Fitness or sports coaching qualifications.

What is my career progression?

Lifeguards can, and often do, choose to take additional training courses in fields such as personal training or swimming teaching to give them the option of progressing in that direction and increase their earning potential. They may also be given the chance to take management courses and move into a supervisor role.

Qualified Lifeguards have the advantage of being able to use their qualification abroad and can frequently find jobs in new locations giving them the opportunity to travel around the world and find paid work if their qualification is internationally recognised.

Why not view our latest Lifeguard jobs to see the sorts of jobs and contracts available right now.

More information:

For more information, advice and guidance about careers in PE, Sport, Training and Fitness and Activity Holiday Jobs, visit our careers advice centre; including job hunting tips, CV guide and much more.

Useful links:

For more information on how to get into lifeguarding, and promoting water safety please visit the Royal Life Saving Society UK and look out for their annual Drowning Prevention Week campaign.