RLSS National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)

NPLQ Overview

The RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is the most awarded lifeguard qualification in the United Kingdom and Ireland that complies with the industry guidance contained within the HSE publication 'Managing Health and Safety in Swimming Pools' Generally, the NPLQ is a recruitment requirement for a number of jobs from Pool Lifeguard to Centre Manager. On successful completion of the course you will be fully qualified to work as a Pool Lifeguard.

The RLSS UK NPLQ is not just a qualification it can be a stepping stone into a career within the leisure industry.

The NPLQ and associated courses are administered by IQL UK Ltd, a trading subsidiary of the Royal Life Saving Society.

The NPLQ course duration is 36 hours with an optional bolt on element of Automated External Defibrilation which is 1.5 hours.

The course comprises of physical training and theoretical classroom work, followed by a practical in-water and out-of-water assessment on pool rescue, first aid, CPR and lifesaving skills.

The qualification is internationally recognised and is incorporated on the Qualifications Framework at Level 2. The NPLQ is valid for 2 years from the date of issue and a further 20 hours of ongoing training and competency assessment must be completed before a lifeguard can renew their qualification prior to the expiry of their existing award.


RLSS UK NPLQ Course Content


Pre Requisites

Every candidate, prior to commencement of training for the NPLQ must:

  • Be 16 years of age at the time of taking the NPLQ assessment;
  • Be able to meet the following basic fitness criteria:-
  • Jump / 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 unaided without ladder / steps and where the pool design permits



Training and assessment for the NPLQ is in three sections and all must be successfully passed to attain the NPLQ.


Section 1 - The Lifeguard and the Law, Swimming Pool Supervision

Element 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law

Element 2 – Swimming Pool, Hazards and Control Measures

Element 3 – Swimming Pool Supervision


Section 2 - Intervention and Rescue and Emergency Action Plans

Element 1 – Intervention and Rescue

Element 2 – Rescue of a Casualty with a Suspected Spinal Injury

Element 3 – Emergency Action Plan

Section 3 - Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, AED, and First Aid

Element 1 – Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

Element 2 – Automated External Defibrillation (AED)

Element 2 – First Aid


Element 2 of Section 3 can include an optional bolt of AED on to the qualification.


RLSS UK NPLQ Course Assessment

Assessment for the NPLQ takes place at the conclusion of a training course for a minimum of 36 hours for new candidates. It determines your knowledge and understanding of the principles of working as a pool lifeguard. The assessment will also determine your ability to apply the skills and knowledge in a work-related environment as they would apply in a swimming pool. Your ability is assessed in a range of lifeguarding skills which enable you to deal with common emergency situations in pools.

The Unit 1 assessment is in four parts:

  • Practical pool assessment
  • Theory assessment
  • First aid assessment
  • CPR assessment


All sections of the NPLQ must be successfully assessed within a 28 day period, and for renewal candidates, within the period of validity of your existing qualification.


Renewal of the RLSS UK NPLQ

Renewal candidates may renew their qualification only within the period of validity of their existing qualification as stated on the insignia.

Candidates must meet the following on-going training criteria before being submitted for a renewal assessment:

  • Provide written evidence of having completed a minimum 20 hours lifesaving, CPR, first aid and competency assessment in conjunction with the undertaking of lifeguard duties within the period of validity of the qualification
  • Hold a current full National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)
  • Have access to a copy of "The Lifeguard", available from Lifesavers Direct.
  • Where lifeguards undertake their activities as part of a club or other voluntary group, the same criteria must be applied in order to ensure a consistent standards within the constraints of their reduced responsibilities.


Approved Prior Learning (APL)

In some circumstances, candidates may be able to show evidence of prior achievement. In such circumstances, training times may be able to be reduced in situations where this would not create disruption to a course programme by disadvantaging other candidates; for example, where the number of candidates remaining for a part of the courses is too small to make the delivery of effective training possible.

Exemptions may apply to holders of the following awards and qualifications (guided learning time credits are shown in brackets):

  • Current RLSS UK National Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NBLQ) [12 hours];
  • Current HSE Approved First Aid at Work Certificate or Occupational First Aid Certificate [9 hours];
  • Current RLSS UK Life Support 3 Award or equivalent [3 hours];
  • Current STA NARS [PL] Qualification [12 hours].

Where candidates wish to claim a training exemption, they MUST provide course trainers with original qualifications (photocopies WILL NOT be accepted) prior to the start of the course. Trainers, when planning courses, should alert potential candidates to the exemption scheme in course promotional materials.

A maximum of 12 hours accreditation for prior learning may be claimed.



Completed assessment reports will be forwarded to IQL for processing. A carbon copy of the Assessment Report Form will be retained by the candidate as proof of successfully gaining the award. IQL will despatch, by normal post, the NPLQ certificate to the candidate's home address.


The validity period of the award is two years from the date of the assessment.


NPLQ Letter

Application Form


Please Contact me for further details.

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Contact Details

Contact: Mark Alderman
Address: 22 Spencer Drive,
Lee On Solent, Hampshire, PO13 8HG
Tel: 07887746367
Email: Click here to email


"Alderman Training have provided the school with a friendly, professional, training service for our lifeguards here at the Testbourne Community School over the last 6-7 years." More...

"We have used Mark for our Lifesaving Training for many years due to his professionalism, expertise and flexibility. Feedback from our staff that attend the training with Mark is very positive." More...

"Mark has been involved in doing assessments on a regular basis for me including first aid and pool lifeguard. Two reasons why i ask mark to assess is that he has a vast amount of experence" More...

"Mark is a fantastic NPLQ trainer and assessor. We have used him on many occasions to either prepare candidates for an exam, or come in to assess." More...

"We would recommend Mark every time someone enquires into booking onto a First Aid course as he has extensive knowledge on the subject." More...

"Mark has been running the RLSS NRASTC for over 6 years at Bedales School. He runs the courses in a fun yet efficient and enthusiastic way." More...