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Lifeguard careers

Working as a lifeguard at a pool or beach it is your responsibility to ensure that swimmers stay safe. This means not just rescuing them once they are in difficulties, but being constantly alert to identify dangerous situations and help prevent accidents.

In addition to using life-saving techniques such as resuscitation, lifeguards at a pool or beach also provide general first aid as required. Working as a lifeguard at a pool, other duties will include monitoring water temperature, pH and chlorine levels, setting up equipment, and advising swimmers on the use of equipment such as diving boards and slides.

To work as a lifeguard you must be physically fit, a strong swimmer, and be at least 16. As a pool lifeguard you will need to acquire one of the following qualifications:

  • National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)
  • National Aquatic Rescue Standard (NaRS)

These courses are typically run at local swimming pools. Both of these certifications are internationally recognised. For those looking to work on the beach, the approved qualifications are:
  • RLSS National Beach Lifeguarding Qualification
  • RLSS Assistant Beach Lifesaver Award
  • National Aquatic Rescue Standard (NaRS)

There is also certification available through the RNLI in the use of specialist equipment such as inflatable rescue boats, rescue watercraft (jet skis) and quad bikes. All those working at a beach or on open water must pass stringent physical tests:
  • 200m pool swim in 3.5 minutes
  • 400m pool swim in 7.5 minutes
  • 25m pool swim underwater and 25m surface swim consecutively in 50 seconds
  • 200m beach run in 40 seconds

These certifications have to be renewed regularly, usually every 24 months.

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