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Emergency

Lifeguard

Lifeguards look after swimming areas, help swimmers to stay safe and carry out rescues in emergencies.

Annual Salary

£13,000 to £29,000

Average UK salary in 2019 was £30,378
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

41 to 43 variable

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on a rota

What's it all about?

Day to day tasks

As a pool or beach lifeguard you'll supervise swimming areas and help people in trouble. Your main tasks will include:

  • making sure swimmers follow safety rules
  • making sure people stay in safe areas
  • rescuing swimmers in danger
  • giving first aid

As a pool lifeguard, you’ll also be:

  • advising swimmers on how to use diving boards and slides
  • checking pool water temperature and chemicals
  • cleaning the pool area and setting up equipment

As a beach lifeguard you’ll also be:

  • monitoring sea conditions and setting up safety flags
  • a point of contact for people on the beach

Working environment

You could work at a fitness centre.

Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and humid.

You can get into this job through:

  • an apprenticeship
  • working towards this role
  • training with professional bodies
Apprenticeship

You can complete a leisure team member intermediate apprenticeship to get into this role.

Entry requirements

To get onto an apprenticeship, you'll find it useful to have:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
For more information
Work

You may be able to work as a pool attendant or assistant, for example in a leisure centre, and take lifeguard qualifications on the job.

Other routes

If you want to work as a pool lifeguard you'll need one of the following qualifications:

To be a beach lifeguard, you'll need to complete the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ).

You can complete the qualifications by:

  • joining a local club as a volunteer and training with them
  • training with a professional body

Once you're qualified, you can also apply to work with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • To qualify as a pool lifeguard, you'll need to:be able to swim 50 metres in less than one minute; be able to swim 100 metres on your front and back without stopping; surface dive to the deepest part of the pool
  • To qualify as a beach lifeguard you must have a good level of fitness and be able to swim in the sea to take the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification. You'll also be expected to meet more standards, such as:completion of a 400m pool swim in less than eight minutes; making a surface dive to a depth of 1.5 metres; treading water for two minutes; climbing out of deep water unaided
  • You'll have to demonstrate these skills as part of an assessment.
  • pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
  • be able to swim

More information

Career tips

You may find it helpful to have a first aid qualification when applying for jobs.

Further information

You can find out more about training to be a pool or beach lifeguard from:Careers in Aquatics; Royal Life Saving Society UK; Swimming Teachers' Association; Surf Life Saving GB

You could become a leisure centre manager with the National Pool Management Qualification.

Some pool lifeguards get swimming teaching or coaching qualifications and give swimming lessons. You could also train and lead a team of lifeguards.

You could compete in lifeguarding competitions.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • customer service skills
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • the ability to work well with others
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • thinking and reasoning skills
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • to enjoy working with other people
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • the ability to monitor your own performance and that of your colleagues
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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