Surfing England

The National Governing Body for Surfing in England

Surfing England Surf Instructor-Recreation Award


• One of the most rewarding jobs there is! Imparting your passion, skills and knowledge and seeing your customers stoked on learning surfing!
• Uniquely amazing lifestyle and culture working with likeminded and passionate people
• Earn a living doing what you love whilst developing your people, leadership and coaching skills

Click to sign up for Surfing England Surf Instructor-Recreation Award


• This is the first step on your surf coaching journey, you will learn fundamental ‘how to coach’ and technical skills enabling you to safely deliver beginner surf lessons
• The course is a mix of theory delivered online or in workshops and practical learning and mentoring on the beach with a competency assessment
• You will leave as a qualified surf instructor ready to join a surf school and start coaching beginner groups in waist depth water


The course launched in spring 2023, working with Surfing England accredited surf schools and senior surf coaches around the country to deliver the award and give new surf instructors the best possible start to their surf coaching careers. The course details will continuously evolve and develop in alignment with our commitment to growth and excellence in our award.


• Minimum level of surfing ability:
• Can paddle out and turtle-roll
• Able to catch green waves, bottom turn and trim left and right
• Surf Safeguarding training
• Signed Coaches Code of Conduct
• Up to date Beach Lifeguard award or valid Surf lifesaving award
• Prospective disabled instructors can attain the award through verbally explaining and showing all of the required knowledge and skill of delivery where they cannot physically demonstrate or cover safety of the group in water. This allows you to instruct with the assistance of a certified beach lifeguard.
Course content:
• 8 online learning modules (can also be taken as a two day workshop)
• Practical training and competency assessment
Age limits:
• At 16 become a junior instructor – You can operate supervised by an adult surf instructor
• At 18 become a surf instructor
Course length & assessment
• Approximately 10 hours of theory to be studied at your own pace with leaning checks and gateways.
• Approximately 20 hours of practical training and mentoring with a Surfing England senior coach

Course training delivery options

Online learning modules at your own pace, anywhere, anytime
2 ‘classroom’ days within a surf school setting

approx. 20 hours +/- of trained & mentored practice on the beach plus assessment

View approved Surfing England Trainer Assessor locations and details

Cost £300 GBP

Scope: This award is designed for new surf instructors and aims to ensure a minimum level of competency for safe working within a surf school environment, delivering beginner lessons in primarily wading depth water in safe conditions to groups of no more than 8. Holders of the qualification will need to work within the guidance and safety management systems of an accredited surf school or club, taking account of local conditions and location-specific risk assessments and operating procedures. New disabled instructors taking the award requiring support outlined in pre-requisites will be qualified to surf instruct only in partnership with a fully qualified beach lifeguard suitably experienced in surfing, or a fellow qualified and suitably experienced surf instructor/coach.

Click to sign up for Surfing England Surf Instructor-Recreation Award


To become a Surfing England Surf Instructor and to further develop your skills as a Progression and then Performance Coach you must have a suitable rescue or lifesaving qualification.

There are two types of award.  The first and easiest to attain are the awards focused purely on delivery of surf instructing for beginner groups.  These qualifications are designed for people working within a structured surf school environment delivering ABC lessons in the white water zone.   Typically they will be delivered over three days and include some basic fitness and swimming requirements.   These awards work well for instructors, but are not suitable for progression and performance surf coaches and do not qualify the individual to oversee over types of water sports activity or to operate as a beach lifeguard.

The second type of award is the full National Vocational Beach Lifeguard.  These awards cover a wider syllabus and have more stringent fitness and swimming requirements, but allow the holder to take any level of surf coaching award and provide a platform for taking qualifications in other beach water sports as well as being the recognised foundation award for beach lifeguards employed by the RNLI.


The table lists the the different qualifications we accept for each of our surf instructor and surf coach awards.

Click to see choice of pre-requisite rescue of lifesaving qualifications


Royal Life Saving Society UK

National Surf Coach Lifesaving Award (NSCLA): Designed specifically for surf instructors, this award gives you the skills and knowledge to keep participants safe delivering structured surf lessons.  Typically delivered over 3 days it it will enable you to become a Surfing England Surf Instructor.  The qualification won’t enable you to be come a beach lifeguard or to become a higher level coach, however holders of the award can take additional training to upgrade to the full vocational beach lifeguard qualification at a later date.

National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ): The national standard for beach lifeguards, this award gives you the skills and knowledge to become a surf coach at any level and / or a beach lifeguard.   Typically delivered over 6 days.

Surf Life Saving GB

Surf Coach Rescue Award:  A new award specifically for surf instructors delivering beginner lessons within a surf school environment.   Typically delivered over 3 days it will enable you to become a Surfing England Surf Instructor.  The award won’t enable you to become a higher level surf coach, deliver other watersports such as coasting or SUP or become a beach lifeguard.

National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification:  The national standard for beach lifeguards, this award gives you the skills and knowledge to become a surf coach at any level and / or a beach lifeguard.   Typically delivered over 6 days.

International Awards

These are the only UK based awards Surfing England recognises as the pre-requisite requirements for Surf Instructors.  For Progression and Performance Surf Coaches only the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification is accepted.

For anyone with an international beach lifeguard qualification, we accept all those with equivalency to the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification as listed by the International Lifesaving Society

Cornwall Marine Network is able to support Surfing England training and eligible participants through ESF (European Social Funding) projects.

Funding applications are welcome from all, including under-represented groups in surfing. This particularly includes disabled people, females, and those from non-white backgrounds.  If you would like to apply for a grant subsidy towards your training costs contact them on 01326 211382 or email [email protected]. Do get in touch directly with Cornwall Marine with any questions. This can be done at any stage – before, during or after your online and practical course but it is important to find out if eligible and get onto the admin process with them promptly.

Click to sign up for Surfing England Surf Instructor-Recreation Award

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