From line throws to CPR you’ll learn fantastic skills during your NPLQ course that you can use throughout your life.

What’s being a lifeguard like?

Lifeguards benefit from varied working hours which you can easily fit around your other commitments , working within a team and there’s also the opportunity to progress your career within the leisure industry as most leisure managers start off as Pool Lifeguards.

If you’d like to learn more about being a lifeguard read Katie’s story here.

Learn skills for life

There is also the option to obtain additional qualifications during an NPLQ course including:


  • Excellent starting point for a career in the leisure industry
  • Opportunity for career progression, as most leisure managers start off as Pool Lifeguards
  • Varied working hours
  • Work within a team
  • The NPLQ is recognised around the world, so potential to work and travel
  • Great way for students to fund studies
  • Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR

This qualification is regulated by Ofqual.

How do I become a lifeguard?

Lifeguard Course Pre-Requisites

Every candidate attending a NPLQ course must be 16-years-old at the time of taking the NPLQ final assessment and be able to:

NPLQ Lifeguarding

  • Jump / dive into deep water
  • Swim 50 metres in less than 60 seconds
  • Swim 100 metres continuously on front and back in deep water
  • Tread water for 30 seconds
  • Surface dive to the floor of the pool
  • Climb out unaided without ladder / steps and where the pool design permits

Course Content

The NPLQ covers all elements of Pool Rescue Techniques, Lifeguarding Theory, First Aid and CPR. The course is physically demanding and will include swimming to set times, lifting casualties and diving to the deepest part of the swimming pool. Training and assessment for the NPLQ is in three sections and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.

Section 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law, Swimming Pool Supervision
Element 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law
Element 2 – Swimming Pool, Hazards and Control Measures
Element 3 – Swimming Pool Supervision

Section 2 – Intervention and Rescue and Emergency Action Plans
Element 1 – Intervention and Rescue
Element 2 – Rescue of a Casualty with a Suspected Spinal Injury
Element 3 – Emergency Action Plan

Section 3 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, AED and First Aid
Element 1 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Element 2 – First Aid
Element 3 – Automated External Defibrillation (AED)


Assessment for the NPLQ takes place at the end of the course. It determines your knowledge and understanding of the principles of working as a pool lifeguard and assesses your ability to apply the skills and knowledge in a work-related environment.

The assessment is split into three sections:

  • Practical pool assessment
  • Theory Assessment – verbal question and answer session with the assessor
  • Practical First Aid & CPR assessment


Upon qualifying with the NPLQ, the certificate is valid for two years from the date of successful completion.

Where particular performance criteria are shown in shaded boxes on the assessment matrix, candidates MUST meet the specific criteria set out in ‘The Lifeguard’ for the particular skill or area of knowledge. Candidates who do not meet the specific performance criteria as set out in ‘The Lifeguard’ MUST fail the whole of that section of the assessment.

When the candidate fails they must be reassessed on the whole of the relevant section or sections they were unsuccessful in.


Lifeguards may renew their qualification only within the period of validity of their existing qualification. Lifeguards must meet the following on-going training criteria before being submitted for a renewal assessment:

  • Provide written evidence of having completed a minimum 20 hours lifesaving, CPR and first aid training within the two year validity period. Ongoing training will be provided by the employer.

Approved Prior Learning (APL)

In some circumstances, candidates may be able to show evidence of prior achievement to exempt themselves from sections of the course. Exemptions may apply to holders of the following awards and qualifications (guided learning time credits are shown in brackets):

  • Current RLSS UK National Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NBLQ) [12 hours]
  • Current First Aid at Work Certificate or Occupational First Aid Certificate [9 hours]

  • Current STA NARS [PL] Qualification [9 hours]


Where candidates wish to claim a training exemption, they must provide the course trainer with original qualifications prior to the start of the course.

A maximum of 12 hours accreditation for prior learning may be claimed.

NPLQ accredited details with Ofqual

The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) 8th Edition is the marketing name for this qualification – its ‘accredited title’ as listed with Ofqual is: IQL – Level 2 Award in Pool Lifeguarding, Intervention, Supervision and Rescue (QCF) qualification number 600/7437/1

Note. the minimum number of credits required to achieve a ’pass’ = 6 credits

This qualification is made up of the following units:

The Lifeguard and the Law: Swimming Pool Operation and Supervision

unit number D/503/7642              QCF credit value = 2

Intervention, Rescue and Implementing Emergency Action Plans

unit number R/503/7069               QCF credit value = 2

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation – CPR and First Aid

unit number M/504/5325             QCF credit value = 2

Optional unit

Safe Use of Automated External Defibrillation – AED Equipment

unit number Y/504/5321               QCF credit value = 0

IQL is the Awarding Organisation of the Royal Life Saving Society UK

Where can I take the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification?

If you’re already a Pool Lifeguard and you’d like to take the next step in your career click here to find out how to become a Pool Lifeguard Trainer Assessor.


Already a Pool Lifeguard, want to be an open water lifeguard? Click here to find out more about RLSS UK’s new Open Water Lifeguard Qualification.