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Royal Lifesaving Society (RLSS)


Here is a couple of the most relevant qualification RLSS run…

National Water Safety Programme (NWSP)


This is not a lifeguard qualification as such, its, as the name suggests a water safety program! It trains people to be safe around water environments. A geography teacher doing field work near ponds or lakes with groups would be the classic user of this award.

Getting it

It’s a modular course which makes it more confusing than it needs to be. You can get a Level 1,2 or 3 awards depending on how many modules you do. If you’re doing it, you’re best off getting them all at once.

Level 1

  • 2 hours of pre-course learning
  • Water Safety Awareness Module (4 hours) OR Occupational Flood Safety (4 hours)
  • These are classroom-based

Level 2

  • Environment Specific Modules and Life Support Option
  • About 1 hours of classroom and 2 hours or practical

Level 3

  • If you can swim 100m and tread water for 2 minutes you can go straight for Level 3
  • Unit 3 is called ‘In Water Rescue’

See the syllabus HERE and the webpage on RLSS’s website is HERE

Working with NWSP

Here is a list of the types people who will benefit from a NWSP:

  • Geography teacher doing a fieldwork trip on a beach
  • Carers taking their clients rock-pooling
  • Outdoor centre staff doing crabbing with groups
  • Scout leaders taking scouts on camp with of lakes
  • Environment Agency worker working near rivers
  • Emergency service workers who might come in contact with water
  • Young People who just love being around water

RLSS Open Water Lifeguard (OWL)


The classic use of this award is for lifeguarding at open water swimming, triathlons and aqua parks with are springing up all over the place. All of these are rising in popularity and are a great source of outside-employment. It’s a step up from a pool lifeguard but it’s not as in-depth as a beach lifeguard as there is no tide or surf to contend with.

This is offered as bolt-on module for those with who hold National Pool Lifeguard Qualification

The award covers open water hazards, lifeguarding an open water site and practical in-water training.


  • Ideally, you will have experience of open water activities otherwise you’ll find it quite challenging.
  • If you are going for the bolt-on option you need to hold the RLSS UK NPLQ (National Pool Lifeguard Qualification)

Getting it

  • It’s a 20-hour course
  • The bolt-on module it’s a 1-day course


  • Aquapark at Rutland Water run a 3 days course for £260. They do the 1-day bolt-on for £60

Working with it

  • Its the qualification you need to work at ‘aqua parks’ such as Dorset Water Park which are becoming hugely popular and great for summer work.
  • Triathalon, sailing clubs, watersports lakes are all in need of OWL’s making it a very sought after qualification, particularly for casual summer work.

For more information see the RLSS webpage