Introduction to Beach Lifeguarding

Beach Lifeguard

Ever fancied working as a beach lifeguard? 

The RLSS UK National Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NBLQ) is recognised by beach operators across the UK and Ireland and covers all the skills involved with rescue, resuscitation, first aid and beach supervision. It is also recognised by the International Life Saving Federation.

NSVL runs regular beach lifeguard courses from our headquarters in Whitley Bay on the North East coast of England.


What is a Beach Lifeguard?

"A lifeguard works as part of a team to provide a safe environment for beach users by preventing accidents and providing rescue and emergency care in response to an incident." 

Be under no illusions - being a beach lifeguard is not just sun, sea and sand. It is a highly skilled job where you are responsible for the safety of members of the public. This doesn't mean that it isn't also a lot of fun, but lifeguards are expected to have a professional attitude to what is an extremely high profile job.

Beach Lifeguarding demands a range of different skills to allow for the varying conditions lifeguards may encounter. The main duties of a Beach Lifeguard are:

  • to supervise the activities and people on the beach
  • to identify hazards and take preventative measures
  • to endeavour to prevent accidents
  • to provide water-safety and safe sunbathing advice
  • to provide a point of contact for people on the beach
  • to provide basic first aid

Whether you are interested in becoming qualified so you can work on a beach, or just because you would like the challenge, read on.

All candidates must be 16 years of age prior to attending a National Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NBLQ) course, though some beach operators will only employ lifeguards over 18 years of age so check the provider in your area.

How fit do I need to be?

You must be a competent swimmer and relatively fit, but you don't need to be a world-class athlete!

Minimum fitness requirements before attending the course are as follows:

  • Jump/dive into deep water
  • Be able to swim 200m continuously on your front and back
  • Swim 400m in a pool without stopping*
  • Surface dive to a depth of 2m without damage to your hearing
  • Run 400m in under 2 minutes
  • Some experience of open water is desirable, but not essential.

For the final assessment you must be able to complete the distance in under 8 minutes.  You will be swim tested prior to the course and must be able to swim 400m without stopping and close enough to 8 minutes to be able to achieve this time in the end assessment.  Please note: some employers expect a higher standard of 7.30 for the 400m swim.

Click here for some suggested pre-course pool training and Top Ten Tips for improving your time.

If you have any more questions please check our Frequently Asked Questions page, before e-mailing us.

What will I do on the course?

Beach Lifeguard theory The theory behind beach lifeguarding, learning techniques for supervising the beach and how to prevent incidents.

Open Water rescue skills You will learn how to use all of the most common types of rescue equipment, such as torpedo buoys ('tubes') and rescue boards.

Life Support You will be trained to the highest standard in resuscitation techniques, and there is also the option to learn how to use Automated External Defibrillators, oxygen and suction.

First Aid You will also be extensively trained in the aquatic first aid applicable to the beach environment.

Why not have a look at the full assessment syllabus, which lists all the tests you will need to complete at the end of the course.

>> Go to Frequently Asked Questions on Beach Lifeguarding >> 


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