National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

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The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) and The Swim Teachers Association (STA-PL) are the standard qualifications providing training to over 95% of lifeguards in the United Kingdom and Ireland. The NPLQ can also be delivered in other countries where trainers and training centres meet IQL UK standards. The NPLQ qualifications and courses are administered by IQL UK Ltd, which is the Institute of Qualified Lifeguards. This is a subsidiary of the Royal Life Saving Society. The Swim Teachers Association (STA-PL) is also a nationally reconciled qualification in the United Kingdom and Ireland. [1]

Both courses can be delivered over a one-week intensive course or over a number of different sessions. The NPLQ and STA-PL course contains both theory and practical training (reflected in the assessment ). Practical training includes CPR, Intervention and Rescue, Rescue of a casualty with a Suspected Spinal Injury and First Aid. Classroom based theory topics include those in the practical sessions as well as many topics relating to the role and requirements of the modern day lifeguard. On average, the course can be fairly expensive, costing as much as £250 for the NPLQ and £280 for the STA. The NPLQ qualification unlike the STA-PL qualification is internationally recognized [2] and can be especially useful for students wishing to travel abroad to continue lifeguarding.

In Ireland the majority of awards are done through IQL Ireland (Institute of Qualified Lifeguards Ireland).

Course Structure[edit]

To obtain the qualification, two units must be passed.[3] Unit one consist of training in swimming pool supervision, the principles of lifesaving and basic first aid. For new candidates, a minimum of thirty one hours training must have been undertaken. Unit one is assessed by an external trainer assessor.

Unit two assesses the practical application of the techniques learnt in unit one, with a minimum of seven hours work being required to pass. It is assessed on an ongoing basis by a qualified trainer assessor.

To obtain the qualification, both units must be passed within six months of each other. The qualification lasts for 2 years from the date of issue and a further 20 hours of training must be completed before a lifeguard applies for renewal, in the STA 30 hours of training are needed.

During 2012 NPLQ Revision 8 was introduced that combined unit 1 & 2 into a single unit. Revision 8 also incorporated changes that rationalized the structure, some subjects were added, some removed or amended. The training material was completely revised together with the training material . An optional AED add on is now available in revision 8. All trainer/assessors need to attend an update in order to train or assess NPLQ going forward as revision 7 was withdrawn in 2013.

During 2012 there were no reported drownings in Lifeguarded swimming pools in the UK. 2012-a-proud-year-for-all-involved-in-pool-lifeguarding


  1. ^ The Swim Teachers Association (STA-PL) is also a nationally reconciled qualification in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
  2. ^ [1], ILSE Full Members. Accessed April 4, 2011
  3. ^ [2], NPLQ Requirements. Accessed April 4, 2012 .