Published: 6 April 2022

Fancy a change or looking for a new challenge? Then why not upskill to become a beach lifeguard this summer and gain invaluable skills for life. 

As an island, the UK has miles and miles of beautiful coastline, and every year people flock to our beaches to enjoy the sea, surf, and sometimes the sun! With more Britons holidaying in the UK, our beaches are more popular than ever, which means the role of the beach lifeguard has never been more important!  

If you’re a pool lifeguard and enjoy the great outdoors as well as being part of a tight-knit team, then a beach lifeguard could be the job for you during the summer season! The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is looking for recruits to spend the summer working on some of the most popular beaches in the UK.  

Read on to discover how you can transition from pool to beach lifeguard and set yourself up for your most fun and rewarding summer yet!  

Why become a beach lifeguard? 

RNLI lifeguards patrol more than 240 beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. They play an essential role in supporting the RNLI to reduce the number of people who drown at the coast, as well as helping to keep people safe by providing essential local safety advice to the thousands of holidaymakers who visit our coastline every summer. To give you some idea of the scale of the work involved, RNLI lifeguards helped more than 25,172 people in 2020 alone.  

“We welcome applications from RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) holders. In our experience, the training and experience these highly qualified professionals have already achieved give them the knowledge and skills needed to transition efficiently to beach lifeguards, to protect thousands of beachgoers,” says Peter Dawes, General Manager Lifeguard Operation, RNLI. 

The work is rewarding and challenging, and no two days are ever the same. 

“The best thing about being a beach lifeguard is being outside and having the opportunity to meet interesting people while reassuring visitors and sharing safety messaging,” says Jo Thompson, RLSS UK’s Events and Accreditation Manager and former beach lifeguard supervisor.  

Ninety-five per cent of a lifeguard's work is preventative. They monitor sea conditions, set up the appropriate flags, watch people on the beach, and offer safety advice. 

“With most seasons starting in May and finishing by September, a beach lifeguard is the perfect job for university students to help fund their studies. It’s also great for fitting around other commitments. I know of a mum who would work a few days a week every season while her sons were young. Now that they are older, she is a full-time beach lifeguard,” added Jo. 

Through the RLSS UK’s National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ), you will receive world-class training in search and rescue, lifesaving and casualty care techniques, good rates of pay, and the chance to develop valuable skills for a future career. And as an internationally recognised qualification, you can work all over the world. 

How do I upskill to be a beach lifeguard? 

The NVBLQ is the national standard for beach lifeguarding, endorsed by the National Water Safety Forum and the RNLI. The NVBLQ gives candidates the skills and knowledge to protect the public at the beach - which is why it is the leading qualification for pool lifeguards who want to work on UK beaches. 

The course covers beach lifeguard theory, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid, and sea skills. It lasts a minimum of 40-hours and is physically demanding, including swimming to set times. The NVBLQ has four modules, and you have to pass all of these to receive the qualification. 

Pool lifeguards with an existing NPLQ qualification can show evidence of prior achievement (from their NPLQ). Meaning they are exempt from some sections of the NVBLQ course (a maximum of 12 hours accreditation for prior learning can be claimed - allowing them to complete it more quickly.  

Your NVBLQ is then valid for two years from the completion date.  

Click here to find out more about the NVBLQ 

Find a course 

With summer on its way, recruitment is now open for the RNLI’s 2022 lifeguard team. If you’d like to be part of this critical lifesaving service - helping prevent incidents and rescuing those in difficulty, book yourself onto a NVBLQ today. 

Become a beach lifeguard and put yourself on the frontline of lifesaving to make this a summer to remember. 

Click here to find NVBLQ courses near you