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Lifeguard Swimming pool attendant, recreation assistant, beach lifeguard

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

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £13,000 to £29,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: variable per week

1. Entry requirements

To be a pool lifeguard you'll need a recognised qualification from either the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) or the Swimming Teaching Association (STA).

To be a beach lifeguard you'll need a different qualification. You could take either:

You'll also need to:

  • be aged 16 or older
  • to have a background check which your employer will arrange for you

2. Skills required

You’ll need:

  • strong swimming skills
  • observational skills
  • an excellent level of concentration
  • strong communication skills, especially in an emergency 
  • the ability to keep calm and act quickly in an emergency

3. What you'll do

Both pool and beach lifeguards supervise swimming areas and help people in trouble. Their main tasks include:

  • making sure swimmers follow safety rules
  • making sure people stay in safe areas
  • rescuing swimmers in danger
  • giving first aid

Pool lifeguards will also spend time:

  • advising swimmers on how to use diving boards and slides
  • checking pool water temperature and chemicals
  • cleaning the pool area and setting up/putting away equipment

Beach lifeguards will also be:

  • monitoring sea conditions and setting up safety flags
  • a point of contact for people on the beach

4. Salary

Starter: £13,000 to £16,000

Experienced: £17,000 to £21,000

Highly Experienced: up to £29,000 (as a full-time manager)

Many lifeguards are part-time and are paid an hourly rate, which can range from £7 to £10.50 an hour.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

Most pool lifeguards work part-time hours which could include weekends, evenings and public holidays.

Beach lifeguards work between May and September during daylight hours.

6. Career path and progression

You could become a leisure centre manager with the National Pool Management Qualification.

Some pool lifeguards gain swimming teaching or coaching qualifications and give swimming lessons.

You could compete in lifeguarding competitions.

You could lead a team of lifeguards and train them.

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Last updated: 13 September 2017