No one likes exams. But in order to compete and grow as a lifeguard, you must be qualified. Qualifications in lifesaving are called AWARDS and are assessed in EXAMS.


Nipper Awards are based on age. Level 1 is under 10, level 2 is under 12 and level 3 is under 14. Once you turn 14 you can do your Junior Lifeguard Award and start patrolling.

All nipper awards consist of a fitness test and a lifesaving test.  The fitness test is made up of swimming, sit ups and push ups.  The distance and time for the swim increases as you level up.  The lifesaving test is made up of water safety theory, first aid, signals and lifesaving theory


If you are above the age of 14 you can start patrolling.  Provided that you have a lifeguard qualification.  The two senior qualifications are the Junior Lifeguard Award which you can achieve between the ages of 14 and 16, and the Lifeguard Award which requires you to be 16.  All municipal / professional lifeguards are required to complete the Lifeguard Award.  In addition, there is a QC award which allows those unable to complete the fitness test, or who wish to act as land support, to be instructed and qualified in the other aspects of lifesaving. 

There are further distinctions to the qualifications, in that a lifeguard may be qualified to patrol at pool, at open water events, or at a beach.  Surf is the highest qualification, followed by open water and lastly pool.

All lifeguard awards consist of a fitness test, theory and practical.  The fitness test depends on the level and type of qualification but is generally a timed swim and a run-swim-run of various distances and times allowed for completion.  Theory tests your knowledge of lifesaving skills. The practical component tests your ability to translate theory into practise.  The practical aspects examined include signals, CPR, choking, various forms of rescues, first aid and patient care.

All successful candidates are required to complete 24 hours of supervised patrolling before being issued with their certificates.