The Royal Life Saving Society's NPLQ is the most awarded lifeguard qualification in the UK and Ireland and is also internationally recognised. 

More than 46,000 pool lifeguards qualify with the RLSS UK course every year, and there are currently more than 90,000 pool lifeguards qualified in the NPLQ – 95% of all UK pool lifeguards. RLSS UK is regulated by Ofqual, Qualifications Wales and CCEA in Northern Ireland.

 Lifeguard Course Prerequisites

Every candidate attending a National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) course must be 16-years-old or above 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

The above Pre swim test must be undertaken and passed by all candidates to secure a place on the course.

What is it like being a lifeguard?

Lifeguards benefit from varied working hours, which can easily fit around other commitments, the experience of working within a team, and the opportunity to progress within the leisure industry - most leisure managers start as pool lifeguards.


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

About the Qualification

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 are in three sections, and candidates must successfully pass all to attain the qualification.

The qualification will last for 2 years, candidates may renew their qualification within the period of validity of their existing qualification as stated on their certificate. This will only include a full assessment of lifeguard 

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 three sections
  • Practical First Aid & CPR assessment


How do I renew my Qualification after 2 years?

Candidates can renew their qualification within the period of validity of their existing qualification as stated on their certificate. 

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 of Continued Professional Development (CPD) within the last two years from the date of the 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

Course Cost

The course cost is £285 per candidate, this is inclusive of manuals, tuition and examination fees.


Courses are held at Sandwell Aquatics centre in our fully equipped training suite

Large onsite Free Carparking available for all candidates

Sandwell Aquatics Centre, Londonderry Lane, Smethwick B67 7EW

Get directions

Equipment Required

  • Note book, pen and highlighter
  • Whistle
  • Swim wear – To include shorts and T-Shirt for water work
  • Lunch (Café available on site if required)
  • Please wear non restricted comfortable clothing for the course. Candidates are required to participate in practical demonstrations.(Jogging bottoms and trainers are ideal)


NPLQ accredited details with Ofqual and qualification specification

National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is the marketing name for Ofqual Register titles - RLSS UK Qualifications Level 3 Award in Pool Lifeguarding (NPLQ Gen 10).

NPLQ Gen 10

RLSS UK Qualifications Level 3 Award in Pool Lifeguarding Qualification (Qualification number: 610/2603/7, COO Number: COO/4788/7)

Note: the minimum number of credits required to achieve a ’pass’ = 5 credits This qualification comprises the following units:

  • Unit 1 - Swimming Pool Safety Operation and Supervision (F/650/6714 - credit value = 2)
  • Unit 2 - Pool Lifeguard Emergency Rescue Skills (L/650/6709 - credit value = 1)
  • Unit 3 - First Aid, Illness and Injury Management in a Pool Environment (D/650/6713 - credit value = 2)
Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA)

NPLQ meets the CIMSPA professional standards for lifeguarding

2024 Course Dates

Full attendance of the course is required

Course: Monday 5th August 2024 – Saturday 10th August 2024

  • Pre Course Swim Test: Saturday 20th July 2024
  • Times: Monday – Saturday 08.30am – 16.30pm


Course: Monday 26th August 2024 – Saturday 31st August 2024

  • Pre Course Swim Test: Saturday 3rd August 2024
  • Times: Monday – Saturday 08.30am – 16.30pm


Course: Sunday 27th October 2024 – Friday 1st November 2024

  • Pre Course Swim Test: Saturday 5th October 2024
  • Times: Sunday – Friday 08.30am – 16.30pm

To Book Your Space or Request Further Information

Please contact Sandwell Leisure Trust ATC Coordinator on the following:


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