National Lifeguard

Lifeguarding is an exciting and rewarding job that carries great responsibility. Guards take courses and train hard for events they hope will never happen and which they work hard to prevent.

Lifeguard rowing

National Lifeguards guards are always in training to keep their skills, knowledge and fitness sharp. They are required to keep other important certifications such as CPR and first aid up-to-date. Some are trained in advanced treatments like using oxygen or in the use of specialized equipment like defibrillators and personal watercraft.

National Lifeguard is Canada's only nationally recognized lifeguard certification program. National Lifeguard is a legal certificate for lifeguarding throughout the country. It is the only lifeguard certificate recognized by the province of Ontario for lifeguarding public swimming pools.

National Lifeguard certification is available in four options: Pool, Waterpark, Waterfront, and Surf. The National Lifeguard Award Guide provides complete details for National Lifeguard Instructors and candidates.

Prerequisites: Minimum 16 years of age. Bronze Cross certification and Standard First Aid certification (need not be current) from one of: Lifesaving Society, St. John Ambulance, Canadian Red Cross, Canadian Ski Patrol.

National Lifeguard Pool certification is a prerequisite for the Waterpark Option.

Evaluation & certification: Current National Lifeguard Instructors evaluate some items, but only National Lifeguard Examiners may certifiy candidates. The Lifesaving Society deems its certifications to be "current" for 24 months from the certification date.

Candidate recognition: Certification card.

Required reference material: Alert: Lifeguarding in Action.

National Lifeguard Recertification: National Lifeguard certification is current for 2 years and is recertified by completing a National Lifeguard recertification exam. The recertification may require 6 - 8 hr. depending on the number of candidates. Check Find a Course for facilities offering National Lifeguard recertification in your area.

The National Lifeguard recertification exam is your opportunity to demonstrate your skills and recertify your award. You are responsible for reviewing the required content and skills and preparing yourself for the exam. Your exam is based on the National Lifeguard Award curriculum. The required content for this curriculum can be found in your Alert text and the Canadian Lifesaving Manual. Candidates should bring Alert, a whistle, barrier devices (gloves and pocket mask) and proof of prerequisite (previous National Lifeguard).

About the 2012 National Lifeguard Revisions

The Lifesaving Society's National Lifeguard certification is Canada's professional lifeguard standard. Since it was formed, the National Lifeguard training program has undergone periodic revision.

The latest update - introduced in June 2012 - features revised test items and performance standards and incorporates the most recent international resuscitation guidelines.

The updated National Lifeguard curriculum is grounded in important lifeguard competencies - judgment, knowledge, skill, fitness - and is guided by the following principles:

  • demonstrated need
  • research evidence
  • consistency with regulations in Canada
  • consistency with international standards (e.g., ILS, ILCOR)
  • Lifesaving Society values

The result is a comprehensive, Canada-wide, professional lifeguard training standard.

Key changes

Prerequisites: A candidate must hold the National Lifeguard Pool certification prior to earning National Lifeguard Waterpark certification. Similarly, a candidate must hold the Waterfront certification before earning National Lifeguard Surf certification. National Lifeguard Pool and Waterfront prerequisites remain unchanged - a minimum 16 years of age and Bronze Cross and Standard First Aid certification (need not be current).

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Lifeguard fitness: Fitness is a cornerstone of lifeguards' job responsibilities, enabling them to remain vigilant, attentive and alert to signs of potential trouble, and to respond safely and confidently in an emergency. The physical standards have been updated in the revised National Lifeguard curriculum to ensure National Lifeguards have the strength and endurance required for their jobs. See National Lifeguard - Pool, National Lifeguard - Waterpark, National Lifeguard - Waterfront and/or National Lifeguard - Surf for specific changes and additions. Watch the National Lifeguard Revisions - Pool Fitness Skills video.