Requirements and training

Being an RNLI lifeguard is a unique and rewarding job that puts you at the frontline of lifesaving – so there are criteria you need to meet in order to apply.


  • National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ) or equivalent to become an RNLI lifeguard. If you already have a beach lifeguard qualification, it needs to be equivalent to the ILS Beach Lifeguard qualification. Find out if yours is recognised on the ILS website.
  • A health assessment (including an eyesight test) to ensure you are physically up to the job. This applies even if you've worked as an RNLI lifeguard before.
  • A 400m pool swim in under 7½ minutes, the first 200m of which must be completed in under 3½ minutes.
  • A 25m pool swim underwater and a 25m surface swim consecutively in under 50 seconds.
  • A 200m beach run in under 40 seconds.
  • Whereas availability for the whole season, which you are applying for, is essential to running a lifeguard service, we recognise that you might have other commitments, such as family care or shift work with another employer, as well as pre-arranged holidays. We are open to working flexibly around these.
  • You need to be of school leaving age.

It may sound like a big ask, but we’ll be there every step of the way to help you reach these criteria – and become the best lifesaver you can be. 

How to become qualified

If you don’t already have a NVBLQ, you can take a course to get the qualification – find your nearest one: 

Stay in touch

And if you don't currently have a recognised beach lifeguard qualification, but you'd like us to stay in touch with regards to opportunities and training, you can join our Facebook group for regular updates, as well as the opportunity to ask any questions.

Get more information

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Become a lifeguard
As an RNLI lifeguard you’ll build your work – and life – experience, get good rates of pay and lifesaving skills for the career you want.
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About the role

As an RNLI lifeguard, you have a unique opportunity to make a difference to the safety of thousands of beachgoers. In 2018, our lifeguards helped over 32,000 people.

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Get qualified
Find training courses to qualify as a lifeguard
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