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 Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and CCEA Regulation in Northern Ireland.

Find a Lifeguard Course near you!

What’s being a lifeguard like?

Lifeguards benefit from varied working hours which you can easily fit around your other commitments, working within a team and there’s also the opportunity to progress your career within the leisure industry as most leisure managers start off 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 include additional hours:


  • Excellent starting point for a career in the leisure industry
  • Opportunity for career progression, as most leisure managers start off as Pool Lifeguards
  • Varied working hours
  • Work within a team
  • The NPLQ is recognised around the world, so potential to work and travel
  • Great way for students to fund studies
  • Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR

How do I become a lifeguard?

Lifeguard Course Pre-Requisites  

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!

Course content

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 is in three sections and all must be successfully passed 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:

  • Practical pool assessment
  • Theory Assessment for all 3 sections
  • Practical First Aid & CPR assessment

About the renewal

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 accreditation for prior learning may be claimed.

NPLQ Generation 9 accredited details with Ofqual and 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 = 2


To download the qualification specification for IQL Level 2 Award in Pool Lifeguarding Intervention Supervision and Rescue click here.

Click here to view all our qualifications