Whether it’s for leisure, exercise, or competition, lots of us enjoy swimming. But none of us would be able to swim safely if it weren’t for lifeguards. Whether it’s baby swimming lessons or an Olympic race, lifeguards allow swimmers to enjoy the activity without fearing the worst. 

1.2 million people in the world die from drowning every year. And there are over 700 drowning deaths per year in the UK alone. These statistics show the importance of having a lifeguard on hand. You may not notice it while you’re focusing on your stroke, but a lifeguard will always have your back. 

Whether you’re looking for some extra cash, want to start your career in swimming, or are passionate about the sport and want to give back, lifeguarding can be great. 

What do I need to do?

The main qualification you’ll need for any lifeguarding job is your National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). You need to be over 16 years old before starting and can expect around 36 hours of training. The process will involve a practical pool assessment, theory assessments on three core sections, and a practical first aid and CPR assessment.

Before even beginning the process you’ll need to be able to:

  • Jump or dive into deep water
  • Swim 50 metres in less than a minute
  • Swim 100 metres on your front and back in deep water
  • Tread water for 30 seconds
  • Surface dive to the bottom of the pool
  • Climb out of the pool without using a ladder or steps


While this qualification will cover you for any lifeguarding job in a pool, you’ll need a different one for beach lifeguarding. For this, you’ll need a National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ). This is at least 40 hours of training followed by assessments of beach theory, life support, first aid, as well as swimming pool and open water practicals.

Both of these qualifications will only last for two years so you’ll have to do regular renewals. The benefit of this is you can always be sure you’re up to date on all key information and procedures.

It’s also worth noting that having extra first aid training can help when applying for jobs. It’s not necessary, but will always be useful and may place you above other candidates.

What can I expect from being a lifeguard?

Being a lifeguard will bring you a great sense of fulfilment. You’ll get to make a difference and save lives should the worst ever happen. If you love swimming, it can be a way to involve yourself even more with the sport and give back to a community that means a lot to you.

Lifeguarding is often flexible working. You’re likely to be paid hourly, and the number of hours you do will be up to you. This makes it perfect for students looking for a little extra cash. It’s low commitment level also makes it ideal while you’re away at university. You’ll be able to pick up some shifts whenever you’re around.

Lifeguarding can be a good start for a career in the leisure industry. It can also be a good first step to coaching or managing. Lifeguarding qualifications are recognised around the world. So wherever you end up, you’ll be able to do your bit.

For when you’re off the clock and want to dive in the pool yourself, consider our high-quality swimwear that meets a variety of needs. Whether you’re in the pool, or keeping a watchful eye from poolside, browse our full range here.