RLSS UK has teamed up with Surf Lifesaving Association Wales (SLSA Wales) to offer the NSCLA - an award designed to give candidates the specific lifesaving skills to become a Surf Coach in the UK. NSCLA is also endorsed by Surfing England.

Find a National Surf Coach Lifesaving Award (NSCLA) near you!

About the National Surf Coach Lifesaving Award (NSCLA)

The National Surf Coach Lifesaving Award aims to be instrumental in developing surf coaches in the UK.

To become a qualified surf coach in the UK, you must initially undertake a suitable lifesaving award before enrolling on the instructor/ coach course.

The NSCLA was developed with support from Surfing England and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) to ensure surf coaches adopt the highest standards of beach safety.

The NSCLA course length is a minimum of 20 hours, followed by a practical assessment on group management/ supervision, First Aid, Life Support, swimming pool and ocean skills.

Upon qualifying with the NSCLA, the certificate is valid for two years from the date of successful completion.


Each candidate attending a NSCLA course must:

  • Be 16-years-old or over at the time of assessment.
  • Have a good level of fitness.
  • Surface dive to a depth of 1.5 metres.
  • Be competent at swimming in the sea.
  • Before the course, candidates must be able to swim at least 200 metres in a pool (a recommended length of 25-metres, but not less than 20-metres).
  • For the assessment, candidates must be able to swim 300m in a pool in 8 minutes or less using a continuous front-facing stroke and showing urgency.

Course Content

The NSCLA covers group management and supervision, First Aid, Life Support, and pool and open water skills. The course is physically demanding and includes swimming to set times and lifting. The NSCLA comprises three modules; you must successfully pass all three to qualify.

  • Module 1 – The beach environment, hazards, and supervision
  • Module 2 – Rescue skills in surf environments
  • Module 3 – First Aid and Life support


The NSCLA assessment takes place at the end of the course. It determines your competence, skills, and knowledge of working as a surf coach and assesses your ability to apply the skills and knowledge learnt in a surf environment.

The assessment falls into:

  • Group management, supervision and First Aid theory
  • Life support practical
  • First Aid practical
  • Ocean skills
  • Pool skills


NSCLA candidates may only renew within the validity of their existing NSCLA qualification. We recommend surf coaches engage in continuous training to ensure they are ready for renewal.

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. Exceptions may apply to holders of the following awards and qualifications [guided time credits shown in brackets]:

  • Current RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) [9 hours]
  • Current Regulated First Aid at Work Certificate [7 hours]
  • Current RLSS UK National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ) [12 hours]

Where candidates wish to claim a training exemption, they must provide the course trainer with original qualifications before the start of the course.

You can claim a maximum of 12 hours of accreditation for prior achievement.

Book on a course

To find your nearest NSCLA courses, visit RLSS UK Course Finder or email us for more details at [email protected].

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