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Lifeguard Training Course

National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

(accredited by the Royal Life Saving Society UK)

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 80,000 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.

How do I become a Lifeguard?

Every candidate attending a NPLQ course must be 16-years-old 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

Find a Lifeguard Course near you!

How do I become 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 here.

Learn skills for life

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


  • 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

About the NPQL

Through IQL UK, the leading provider of lifeguard training, there are more than 90,000 RLSS UK pool lifeguards trained in the National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). IQL UK is the awarding organisation recognised and monitored by OfqualQualifications Wales and CCEA Regulation in Northern Ireland.

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 are in three sections, and candidates must successfully pass all 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)

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:

  1. Practical pool assessment
  2. Theory Assessment for all three sections
  3. 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:
    • Emergency First Aid at Work
    • 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.

NPLQ accredited details with Ofqual and qualification specification

The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) 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 qualification number 603/3309/1

Note. the minimum number of credits required to achieve a ’pass’ = 5 credits

This qualification is made up of the following units:

  • Unit 1 – Swimming Pool Safety Operation and Supervision unit number J/617/0924 credit value = 2
  • Unit 2 – Pool Lifeguard Emergency Rescue Skills L/617/0925 credit value = 1
  • Unit 3 – First Aid, illness and Injury Management in a Pool Environment R/617/0926 credit value =