School leavers can now apply to be a paid RNLI lifeguard on Sussex beaches this summer - here’s everything you need to know

The weather is warming up and The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is in search of budding new lifeguards to spend a season working on some of Sussex’s most popular beaches.

RNLI lifeguards Bexhill-on-Sea  beach July 2020 SUS-210226-183736001
RNLI lifeguards Bexhill-on-Sea beach July 2020 SUS-210226-183736001

This is a paid position for young people who want to earn money keeping people safe in the summer months and applications are now open for 2021.

Recruitment for this season’s team of RNLI beach lifesavers has opened nationally, ready for what is expected to be a busy summer and people enjoy staycations.

Beach lifeguards are at the forefront of the charity’s lifesaving work, offering safety advice to visitors and rescuing those in difficulty.

RNLI lifeguards St Leonards beach july 2020 SUS-210226-183702001

This year, the RNLI will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of their lifeguard service. In 2019, the charity’s lifeguards responded to more than 17,000 incidents and helped almost 30,000 people. Successful applicants will receive world-class lifesaving training, enjoy good rates of pay and develop valuable skills for a future career.

Hugh Richardson, RNLI lead lifeguard supervisor for East Sussex, said: “If you are looking for a unique and rewarding summer job, lifeguarding could be the perfect opportunity for you. The job is demanding and requires a clear head, commitment, and dedication.

“The skills our lifeguards gain can be an ideal first step towards many career paths or offer invaluable experience for those studying or training in a similar field. We’ve had lifeguards who are studying for jobs in the emergency services or even volunteer for other rescue agencies.

“We’re looking for people with courage, determination and the ability to put their training into action and make the right decision if someone’s life is in danger. It is an incredibly rewarding role.

RNLI lifeguards Bexhill-on-Sea beach July 2020 SUS-210226-183746001

“There aren’t too many jobs out there which offer fantastic training and development opportunities, while also allowing you to work in your favourite environment and actively encourage you to surf, swim and train.”

Craig Maltby, an RNLI lead lifeguard supervisor in Sussex said: “To apply, you need to be of school leaving age, have a right to work in the UK, be healthy, able to swim 400m and meet our specific fitness criteria.

“If you’ve got a beach lifeguard qualification, you’re halfway there already – if not, we might be able to help you with that.”

RNLI lifeguards are qualified in lifesaving and casualty care, highly trained and strong and fit - able to swim 200m in under 3½ minutes and run 200m on sand in under 40 seconds.

RNLI Lifeguards Pelham Beach Hastings July 2020 SUS-210226-183725001

A good lifeguard rarely gets wet - 95 per cent of a lifeguard’s work is preventative.

They monitor sea conditions and set up the appropriate flags, watch the people on the beach and offer safety advice both on the beach and in classrooms through our education programmes.

Most RNLI lifeguards are paid by the relevant local authority to maintain patrols on our busiest beaches, but we also have volunteer lifeguards.

Lifeguard support volunteers help lifeguards with duties on land, such as lookout, radio communications and casualty care.


Find out more about how you can help to improve the safety of your local community and apply to be part of our amazing lifesaving team at

The RNLI operates more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and the Channel Islands, including Camber Central, Camber West, Bexhill-on-Sea, Hastings Pelham, Hastings Pier, Marina St Leonards, Littlehampton East and West and Bognor Regis.

RNLI lifeguards have a unique opportunity to make a difference to thousands of beachgoers – in 2018 they helped more than 32,000 people.

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea.

Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts.

The RNLI operates more than 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands.

The RNLI is independent of coastguard and Government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved more than 142,700 lives.

Find out if you have got what it takes by reading our question and answers interview with Hugh Richardson, lead lifeguard supervisor with the RNLI, by clicking here. You’ll also find a link to the RNLI’s lifeguard application page. Good luck.