NPLQ – Pre-requisites and content

The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is the most widely recognised lifeguard qualification in the UK & Ireland and 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.

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You must be at least 16 years of age by the date of the assessment.
To enrol on NPLQ course you must be able to do the following:

  • Swim 50m in less than 1 minute
  • Swim 100m continuously on your front then 100m on your back
  • Tread water in deep water for more than 30 seconds
  • Surface dive to the deepest part of the pool
  • Climb out of the pool unaided

The course will be conducted in English.
Full attendance on this course is required (all 36 hours,) in order to be entered for the exam. YOU MUST ATTEND EVERY DAY.
If you do not turn up or are late for the start of the NPLQ, you may be asked to leave the course.

You will need to bring with you:

  • Shorts and T-shirt (to be worn in the water) and a towel.
  • Poolside clothing i.e. tracksuit, shorts, T shirt poolside shoes (trainers).
  • Notepad and writing materials
  • Refreshments


The NPLQ 8th Edition contains 3 Sections and each Section will contain 3 Elements as follows:

Section 1 – The Lifeguard and the Law, Swimming pool and 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 3 – First Aid

The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) is awarded upon successful completion of all 3 sections.

Qualification standards

  • Passes must be obtained in all sections in order to obtain NPLQ .
  • In the event that you fail any one section, it will be necessary to retake the relevant section within 28 days in order to obtain full NPLQ qualification. Additional fees and charges apply for retaking a failed section and costs can be obtained by application to Totalcourses.
  • If more than 28 days elapses before retaking the relevant section then you would be required to apply and register for the entirety of a new course.

Assessment will be on the last day of the course via a practical and verbal exam from an independent assessor

Candidates who have recently taken one of the following qualifications may be excused from one or more sessions: HSE First Aid at Work, NBLQ or STA NARS (PL). Proof of validity will be required. The trainer will advise whether any exemption is permitted, but we recommend that all sessions are attended. All candidates that currently hold an NPLQ will need to show evidence of their on-going (20hrs)training to be considered for exemption or being forwarded for exam.