Swimming pool attendant, recreation assistant, beach lifeguard
Lifeguards look after swimming areas, help swimmers to stay safe and carry out rescues in emergencies.
Salary range: £13,000 yo £29,000
How to become a lifeguard
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.
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
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.
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.
You may find it helpful to have a first aid qualification when applying for jobs.
You can find out more about training to be a pool or beach lifeguard from:
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- 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
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass enhanced background checks, as you may be working with children and vulnerable adults
- be able to swim
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.
What you’ll do
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
You could work at a fitness centre.
Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and humid.
Career path and progression
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.