Do You Want to Work As a Surf Instructor This Summer?We've put together this handy guide covering the qualifications you need to make it happen

Linley Lewis


6 months ago in Surf

For those of you looking to immerse yourself in all the enviable cliches of making the beach your office this coming summer season, we’ve put together this handy guide covering the qualifications you need to make it happen.

What jobs can I do to work on the beach?

There’s obviously a range of jobs that you can take on the beach. In true British style you could work in a food kiosk, you could help clean the public amenities, but on the assumption that you want to finish the season blonde locked, tanned to the max, and having maximised your water time the two most popular are to become a Beach Lifeguard, or Surf Instructor.

What Qualifications do I need to become a Surf Instructor or Beach Lifeguard?

It’s simple, there are two qualifications that you need to get:

• Surf Lifeguard Qualification (SLSGB Surf Lifeguard Award)
• ISA Surf Instructors Qualification

With both of the above you can work as a surf instructor, and as it’s ISA (the International Surfing Association) you’ll be recognised internationally, meaning you can turn up to any beach around the world and get your qualifications. With the Surf Lifeguard qualification you can apply to work as a RNLI Beach Lifeguard.

How good a surfer do I need to be?

The ISA course is a two day programme, during which you’ll run through the basic fundamentals and theory behind teaching beginners how to surf.

You need confidence (to be able to stand up and talk to a group), knowledge (on surfing and the beach to make sure you can deliver a safe experience), and surfing ability. However, the ability required at this level is pretty entry, as you won’t actually be surfing as part of your lesson plan. In short you’ll need to be able to demonstrate that you can paddle out back in shoulder to head high surf, are able to go both left and right, do a basic manoeuvre (bottom turn, top turn), and finish the wave in control. There will be a surf assessment, and you’ll need to demonstrate your ability in that period.

Here’s a video that helps explain it:

What’s involved in the Beach Lifeguard Qualification?

There are two options here, depending on what you want:

The SLSGB Surf Lifeguard Award – 5 days

This is Internationally recognised and is one the most comprehensive lifeguard courses in the world. It is the preferred qualification for individuals wishing to gain employment within the RNLI Beach Lifeguard Service. This course is not for the faint hearted. The training involves running, swimming, rescuing and dragging casualties through the surf zone and up the beach using rescue boards and rescue tubes. Course modules include amongst others, lifeguard and first aid theory, CPR and spinal management.

You must be over 16 years of age, physically fit and able to swim 400 metres in under 7:30 minutes (first 200 meters under 3:30) along with a 200 meter beach run in under 40 seconds.

This course is ideal if you want to keep your options open, as the qualification allows you to work as a surf instructor, but also as a beach lifeguard.

I’d also strongly recommend that any regular surfer does this qualification (if you have the time!) You never know when you might have to bring these safety calls into action, and it gives you a lot more in water confidence.

SLSGB Surf Coach Safety and Rescue award – 3 days

If you only wish to work as a surf instructor, then you can take the shorter ‘Surf Coach Safety and Rescue Award’ which is 2 days short, and has no timed swim, making it much less physically demanding.

Where can I do the qualifications, and how much are they?

There are a few different options running in Cornwall this Summer, and you can take your pick depending on your level of requirement.

ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course 2 Days, £300
The independent Surf Instructors qualification n.b. you’ll need a surf lifesaving qualification as well if you want to actually work.

ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor & SLSGB Surf Lifeguard Course 7 Days, £550
This is a combination course, and the perfect option for anyone looking to fast track themselves into the industry.

SLSGB Surf Lifeguard Course 5 days, £300
The full beach lifeguard qualification. Highly recommended, so long as you have the confidence to swim 16 lengths of a 25m pool in under 7m30s.

SLSGB Surf Coach Safety & Rescue Award 3 Days, £250
The lighter option of the two, and this is the minimum requirement to work as a surf instructor.

ISA Level 1 Surf Instructor Course Dates

18th – 19th May 2019

15th – 16th June 2019

29th – 30th June 2019

14th – 15th Sept 2019

12th – 13th Oct 2019

SLSGB Surf Lifeguard Course Dates

20th – 24th May 2019

10th – 14th June 2019

1st – 5th July 2019

9th – 13th Sept 2019

7th – 11th Oct 2019

How long do the qualifications last?

ISA Level 1 – You need to pay an ISA membership fee annually, as long as this is up to date you will remain qualified, this costs $100 every year (obviously you need to make sure your surf lifesaver qualification is up to date as well!).

Surf Lifesaver Awards – The above two qualifications last for 2 years, after which point you will need to do a refresher to remain qualified.

Not feeling up to scratch?

If you don’t feel confident enough to go straight into these qualifications then you can do an overseas surf instructor course, which would incorporate training and development, to give you the best prospect of passing.

Any questions or further information?

If you have any questions on the above feel free to comment below. Have you done one of these courses? If so please add in some feedback to those in the search below.