Lifeguard Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Lifeguard, or Life Saver, monitors and supervises aquatic activities. Their primary duties include overseeing swimmer safety, rescue operations and staying alert to changing weather and water conditions.


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Lifeguard duties and responsibilities

Lifeguards are experts in water safety and must rescue swimmers who are sick, distressed or hurt. They may also do the following:

  • Supervising swimming activities at the aquatic centre and making sure that safety procedures, guidelines and policies are followed
  • Warning of unsafe activities and enforcing water safety policies and pool regulations
  • Providing first aid in the event of injury, rescuing swimmers in danger or distress and administering Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) or artificial respiration, if necessary
  • Assessing conditions for safety and coming up with an action plan for aquatics emergency
  • Inspecting pool equipment, facilities and water to make sure they are usable and safe
  • Supervising and assisting in cleaning equipment and facilities
  • Opening and closing the pool each day, depending on schedule and hours
  • Organising and overseeing pool parties
  • Instructing or assisting classes in fundamentals of swimming
  • Resolving scheduling conflicts to make sure the pool environment is safe for competitions


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What does a Lifeguard do?

A Lifeguard maintains the safety of swimmers through observation of their surroundings, uses verbal and flag signal communications to swimmers and quickly responds to emergencies using rescue procedures. They enforce rules, observe weather and water conditions and intervene if there is rough and dangerous play. Lifeguards work in a variety of environments. Some work at pool areas in municipal recreation areas, privately owned swim clubs, schools and hotels, while others work at beaches or large aquatic centres and water parks. 


Lifeguard skills and qualifications

Lifeguards need a variety of skills and qualifications to perform their duties and responsibilities effectively.  successful Lifeguard candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that include:

  • Ability to evaluate water conditions at the beach, aquatics facilities or offsite natural pools, rivers or streams to identify any potential hazards or dangers
  • Ability to adjust water programmes to make sure visitors and other staff are safe
  • Swimming skills and comfort in all kinds of water conditions
  • Ability to evaluate and judge the changing dynamics of people taking part in aquatic activities to immediately determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as the threats to their safety
  • In-depth knowledge of safety policies, on-site protocols and operational procedures
  • In-depth knowledge of techniques and methods for providing medical services in the event of an emergency


Lifeguard experience requirements

Lifeguards must have a full driver’s licence, previous experience in a similar role and at least two years of experience in rescue and recovery. They must also have several years of experience using various emergency equipment, such as the automated external defibrillator (AED). They must also have experience in emergency oxygen administration, in-line stabilisation procedures, rescue aids and with methods such as the use of lifebuoys and poles. 


Lifeguard education and training requirements

Lifeguards must have at least a the minimum General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSEs) in English and maths or diplomas from higher education colleges. While they don’t need a degree to perform their job, they must have a National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ) or a Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ). Lifeguards must also have valid certificates in CPR, AED, first aid, emergency oxygen administration therapy and in-line spinal stabilisation. Pool Lifeguards must have a valid responder certificate in addition to their NPLQ. Some employers require lifeguards to obtain Disclosure and Barring Service qualifications (DBS) eligibility or an International Pool Lifeguard Certificate.


Lifeguard salary expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Lifeguard is £9.14 per hour. This figure varies depending on factors, such as the company, experience and geographical location. 


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Lifeguard job description FAQs


What is the difference between a Lifeguard and a Paramedic?

Lifeguards perform emergency aid on-site and call emergency services for treatment beyond their abilities. Paramedics perform advanced life support, manage patient care and transport patients to hospitals. Trained in dispensing 30-40 medications and no restrictions on administrating injections or IVs, a licenced Paramedic works from an ambulance.


What are the different types of Lifeguards?

Lifeguard categories include pool, beach, international and Open Water Lifeguards (OWLs).  International Lifeguards work internationally in all capacities. OWL Lifeguards provide supervision and rescue cover at planned, risk-assessed and organised events at still and non-tidal open water facilities.


Who does a Lifeguard report to?

An individually hired Lifeguard reports to a Direct Manager or Supervisor on-site at the organisation. Lifeguards hired through training centres and organisations, such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) and Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) UK, report directly to those organisations.


What should you look for in a Lifeguard CV?

Candidates should have at least two years of experience in a similar role. They should also have the proper full certification requirements in CPR, AED, First Aid, Emergency Oxygen Administration therapy. In-line stabilisation and should be documented and current. Additional certifications, specific to pool Lifeguards, beach and open water Lifeguards, include NVBLQ, NPLQ, Pool Responder Certificate, OWL and proof of DBS qualification. The candidate should also demonstrate leadership skills and show expertise in operating rescue equipment and vehicles.

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