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

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £22,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

35 to 40 variable

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

Future employment

There will be 0.5% fewer Lifeguard jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

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

  • make sure swimmers follow safety rules
  • make sure people stay in safe areas
  • rescue swimmers in danger
  • give first aid

As a pool lifeguard, you’ll also:

  • advise swimmers on how to use diving boards and slides
  • check pool water temperature and chemicals
  • clean the pool area and set up equipment

As a beach lifeguard you'll also:

  • monitor sea conditions and set up safety flags
  • be a point of contact for people on the beach

Working environment

You could work at a fitness centre.

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

You can get into this job through:

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

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

As well as learning how to perform the duties of a lifeguard, on this apprenticeship you will also learn more about the duties of a:swimming teacher; gym instructor; group activities coach

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

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

You can also apply to train and work with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • To take a pool lifeguard qualification you'll need to be able to:jump or 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 of the pool unaided without using ladders or steps
  • 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 need to be able to:complete a 400m pool swim in less than eight minutes; make a surface dive to a depth of 1.5 metres; tread water for two minutes; climb out of deep water unaided
  • You'll have to demonstrate these skills as part of an assessment.
  • be over 16 years of age
  • pass enhanced background checks as you may work 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 and gaining experience through volunteering, from:Careers in Aquatics; Royal Life Saving Society UK; Swimming Teachers' Association; Surf Life Saving GB

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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
  • the ability to work well with others
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • physical skills like movement, coordination and dexterity
  • knowledge of first aid and life saving techniques
  • concentration skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • sensitivity and understanding
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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