The RLSS UK has teamed up with Surf Life Saving Association (SLSA) Wales to offer the NVBLQ which is a national standard for beach lifeguarding. On completion of this course, candidates will have the skills and knowledge to protect the public at the beach. NVBLQ is also endorsed by the National Water Safety Forum and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).  

About the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ)

The National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ) is the core qualification for anyone seeking employment on UK Beaches.

The NVBLQ ensures that the qualified lifeguard has the knowledge and skills required to operate effectively across a range of beach environments.

NVBLQ was developed with support from the National Water Safety Forum Beach Advisory Group and the Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) and is recognised by the RNLI as one of the main qualifications for beach lifeguarding.

The NVBLQ course is a minimum of 40 hours long followed by a practical assessment on beach theory, life support, first aid, swimming pool practical and open water practical. 

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


  • The NVBLQ is internationally recognised, so potential to work and travel
  • Work within a team
  • Great way for students to fund studies
  • Learn essential life skills, including First Aid and CPR

NVBLQ Course Prerequisites

Every candidate attending a NVBLQ course must:

  • Be 16-years-old or over at the time of the assessment
  • Have a good level of fitness
  • Surface dive to a depth of 2 metres
  • Be competent at swimming in the sea
  • Before the course, candidates must be able to swim at least 200 metres in a pool (of recommended length 25 metres, but no less than 20 metres) in five minutes or less
  • For the assessment, candidates must be able to swim 400 metres in a pool (recommended 25 metres, but no less than 20 metres) in eight minutes or less using a continuous front stroke and showing urgency

Course Content

The NVBLQ covers all elements of beach lifeguard theory, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), first aid, pool skills and open water skills. The course is physically demanding and will include swimming to set times and lifting. The NVBLQ is comprised of four modules and all must be successfully passed to attain the qualification.

  • Module 1 – Beach Lifeguarding – Knowledge and Understanding
  • Module 2 – Life Support and First Aid
  • Module 3 – Ocean Skills
  • Module 4 – Pool Skills


The NVBLQ assessment takes place at the end of the course. It determines your competence, skills and knowledge of working as a beach lifeguard and assesses your ability to apply the skills and knowledge in a beach environment.

The assessment is split into five elements:

  • Beach Lifeguard and First Aid Theory
  • Life Support and First Aid
  • First Aid Practical
  • Ocean Skills
  • Pool Skills


Beach Lifeguards may renew their qualification only within the validity of their existing qualification. Lifeguards are recommended to engage in continuous training to ensure they are ready for duty.

Approved Prior Learning (APL)

In some circumstances, candidates may be able to show evidence of prior achievement to exempt themselves from section of the course. Exceptions may apply to holders of the following awards and qualifications (guided time credits are shown in brackets):

  • Current RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) [12 hours]
  • Current RLSS UK Life Support 3 [3 hours]
  • Current First Aid at Work Certificate or Occupational First Aid Certificate [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

Book on a Course

To find your nearest NVBLQ courses visit Course Finder or email us for more details [email protected]

Next steps 

Once you have completed your NVBLQ, your next steps is to become a RLSS UK Trainer Assessor (TA) with NVBLQ Specialism, delivering NVBLQ courses throughout the UK or Ireland. You could also go on to upskill and become a Pool to Pond Instructor, Lifesaving Instructor, Rookie Lifeguard Instructor or Water Smart Instructor. You can find information on all the courses we offer by clicking here.

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