Seattle Parks and Recreation Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent
  Parks   Centers & Pools Activities Reservations & Permits Projects & Planning A - Z Index
SPARC - Online Registration
Arts & Culture
Healthy Parks, Healthy You
Pool Schedules
Wading Pools & Sprayparks
Open Water Swimming
Polar Bear Plunge
Scuba Diving
Aquatics Employment & Training
Lifelong Recreation (50+)
Specialized Programs
Environmental Stewardship
Good Food
Seattle Parks and Recreation

The Northwest Lifeguard Test


Click to skip down to:


This course tests the rescue skills of an individual using proven lifeguard techniques. The purpose of the test is to examine an individuals’ ability to perform the specific lifeguarding skills on any assigned victim at the time of the test.

Grading elements include

  • 50 yards head high crawl under 45 seconds*
  • Variety of lifeguarding skills
  • Spinal injury rescue in shallow water
  • Dive and recover submerged victim
  • Rescue of struggling victim

The Northwest Lifeguard Certification Test is offered on a regular basis at pools in the Greater Seattle area. The test is sponsored by the King and Kitsap Chapter of the American Red Cross in cooperation with recreation departments of the City of Bellevue and the City of Seattle.

* There are two certified versions of the NW Test. The full/beach certification, and modified/indoor pool certification. Scoring of the timed Head High 50 Yard Swim and the Underwater Swim in the Medley will determine your certification level. See Grading Criteria You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document. or call your nearest pool for details.


The purpose of this test is to examine your ability to perform a series of lifeguard, rescue, and physical skills required by many northwest aquatic agencies, including Seattle Parks and Recreation. Any candidate that does not pass a section is strongly encouraged to complete the rest of the test for practice and experience.


The safety of test candidates and testers is crucial. For this reason we ask that candidates taking the test, immediately release any grasp if you are pinched. When acting as a victim for a skill being tested, you may use pinching as a signal that you are being held in a grasp that makes you feel unsafe in anyway.

Equipment & Jewelry

Specialized equipment (i.e. goggles, nose plugs, swim caps, etc.) are not allowed during any portion of the test. No jewelry, watches, earrings or bracelets are allowed. Please bring a towel out on deck with you.



  1. Call the pool at least three days prior to the test to register. The program will be cancelled if less than 10 are registered and will be capped at 60. Those not registered will not be tested.
  2. A minimum age of 15 by the date of the test is required. American Red Cross Lifeguarding
    Training certification or equivalent is recommended.
  3. Download grading criteria and test informationYou will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document* or pick them up at all City of Seattle, City of Bellevue and King County pools.
  4. The test will last approximately three hours.
  5. Bring a pocket mask, swim suit and towel.
  6. Fee: None.
  7. Use of special equipment (i.e. goggles, nose plugs, fins, etc.) is not allowed during the test.

Sponsors: King and Kitsap Chapter of American Red Cross in Cooperation with Seattle Parks and Recreation.

NOTE: This test requires body contact rescues and carries without the use of rescue tubes or equipment.

*Note: To view a PDF, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader. Download it for free at

Last Update March 20, 2014

View flier for a complete list of testing dates.

» Lifeguard Test Flier You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.
» Grading Criteria You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document.

 Home | Partnerships | Park Board | Volunteer | FAQ | Parkways Parkways Icon | Facebook Facebook Icon | @SeattleParks Twitter Icon | Flickr Flickr Icon