You must be a strong, confident swimmer – swimming ability is more important than educational qualifications.
You need a current lifeguard qualification. In Scotland this would be the RLSS National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). See their website for details.
You must be at least 16 years of age, and be able to swim 50 metres in less than a minute and be able to swim 100 metres in deep water on your front and back without stopping. You should be able to tread water for 30 seconds, surface dive to the bottom of the pool to pick up an object and climb out of the pool unaided (no use of ladders or steps).
You should be physically fit.
You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
Jobs are in local authority swimming pools, health and fitness centres, hotels, activity holiday centres and leisure centres.
careful and accurate in checking the water quality and filters and using chemicals
able to remain calm, react quickly and take charge in an emergency
willing to take responsibility
pleasant and friendly
assertive – to deal firmly with rowdy or difficult people.
Introductory training is on the job and should include health and safety.
If you do not have a first aid qualification, you would usually need to obtain one within the first three months.
There is an option to obtain additional qualifications when completing the NPLQ such as First Aid at Work, Emergency First Aid at Work, Automated External Defibrillation Certificate and Management of Anaphylaxis.
If you are responsible for maintaining the water quality, you can complete the RLSS National Pool Management Qualification. This 4-day course is a technical qualification for staff operating pool plant each day.
To become a beach lifeguard, you would need a National Beach Lifeguard qualification such as the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ). This lasts a minimum of 40 hours and is followed by a practical assessment.
To become an open water lifeguard, you would complete the Open Water Lifeguard Qualification. This is allows you to provide rescue during controlled activities such as triathlons. It is available as a top up module for those with a lifeguard qualification, or a course for those with no experience.
After gaining experience you might progress to a supervisory post, pool manager or centre manager.
Your lifeguard qualifications are only valid for 24 months. You must then have your lifesaving and first aid skills assessed before you can renew your qualification.
You must complete 20 hours Continued Professional Development within these two years covering content from the NPLQ syllabus.