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National Pool Lifeguard Course

The NPLQ is the most awarded lifeguard qualification in the UK and Ireland and is also internationally recognised. More than 40,000 pool lifeguards qualify with the RLSS UK every year, and there are currently more than 90,000 pool lifeguards qualified in the NPLQ – 95% of all UK pool lifeguards.  

RLSS UK is regulated by Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland.

National Pool Lifeguard Course Dates

8:30am to 5pm,  Colwyn Leisure Centre

  • 23 March to 29 March 2024
  • 20 July to 26 July 2024
  • 26 October to 1 November 2024
  • 22 February to 28 February 2025

How do I become a lifeguard?

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

  • 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

What is it like being a lifeguard?

Lifeguards benefit from varied working hours, which can easily fit around other commitments, the experience of working within a team, and the opportunity to progress within the leisure industry - most leisure managers start as pool lifeguards.

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

Learn skills for life

There is the option to obtain additional qualifications during an NPLQ course, these will require additional hours:

  • Emergency First Aid at Work
  • First Aid at Work Certificate
  • Automated External Defibrillation Certificate (AED)
  • Management of Anaphylaxis


  • An excellent starting point for a career in the leisure industry
  • Opportunity for career progression as most leisure managers start as Pool Lifeguards
  • Varied working hours
  • Work within a team
  • The NPLQ is recognised around the world, so potential to work and travel
  • A great way for students to fund studies
  • Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR
  • This is a new level 3 certificate in Lifeguarding meaning it is worth 8 UCAS points (from May 2024)

About the assessment

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 for all three sections
  • Practical First Aid & CPR assessment

How do I renew my NPLQ?

NPLQ renewal candidates may renew their qualification within the period of validity of their existing qualification as stated on their certificate. This will include a full assessment of lifeguard knowledge and skills by an independent assessor. Candidates must have access to the most up to date copy of ‘The Lifeguard’ manual prior to assessment.

The following is required to be completed by candidates prior to the renewal assessment of their qualification to demonstrate their ongoing professional competence:

  • 20 hours Continued Professional Development within the last two years from the date of previous assessment covering content from the NPLQ syllabus:
  • In-water swimming pool rescue skills (at least 4 hrs)
  • CPR (at least 4 hrs)
  • First Aid (at least 4 hrs)
  • Lifeguard theory (at least 4 hours)

Continued Professional Development can be achieved by:

  • Attendance at Lifeguard ongoing training and competency assessment* (strongly recommended)
  • Attendance at alternative training, face-to-face or online, relating to In-water swimming pool rescue skills, CPR, First Aid and Lifeguard theory

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):

  • RLSS UK National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (12 hours)
  • RLSS UK National Rescue Award for Swimming Teachers and Coaches (6 hours
  • RLSS UK Emergency Response Pool Qualification (6 hours)
  • RLSS UK Open Water Lifeguard Qualification (6 hours)
  • Regulated First Aid at Work Certificate or Occupational First Aid Certificate (9 hours)
  • Regulated Emergency First Aid at Work Certificate (3 hours)
  • Regulated Paediatric First Aid Certificate (6 hours)
  • Regulated Emergency Paediatric First Aid Certificate (3 hours)
  • STA Pool Lifeguard Qualification (9 hours)• HABC Pool Lifeguard 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 of accreditation for prior learning may be claimed.

More information

If you would like to find out more about the National Pool Lifeguard Course, please complete our training enquiry form, or alternatively you can contact a member of our team:

Telephone: 0300 456 95 25

Cost: £290 per person

Standard Terms and Conditions (PDF)

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