The guide to lifeguard training and certification created by the lifeguard experts at Continental Pools
Summer is quickly approaching and you are in need of a summer job. You want to become a lifeguard but you have no idea where to start. You might be asking yourself… How do I become a lifeguard? Where do I go for training? What are the requirements? Can I work at my community pool? How much is training? Help!
How to Become A Lifeguard
There are many ways to gain information on how to become a lifeguard. Your high school is a great start. Schedule a meeting with your guidance counselor, as they receive employment resources from various pool companies throughout the year. They typically have information packets on seasonal employment opportunities that will allow you to learn more about becoming a lifeguard. Your counselor can also schedule “Lunch Time Recruitment” with many of these companies so check in each spring to potentially land you that awesome lifeguarding job you’ve been searching for!
If you attend community college or a university, check out the posts listed on their job board. Community colleges and universities typically hold a job fair in the fall and spring, so this is also a great place to find summer opportunities. Many pool companies participate in these job fairs, seeking lifeguards, pool managers, and supervisors. Colleges and universities also have career services to assist students. Your career services office will provide resume and cover writing assistance, one-on-one job counseling, and recruiting programs. Career services is a great tool to utilize for employment assistance. Getting involved with your college career program could be the passport to your future.
If you live in a community with a pool, contact your homeowner association or your property management company. Find out if they contract a pool management company or if they manage the pool themselves. Sometimes pool management companies post a sign at the pool, stating who they are and how to contact them for a summer job. If you do not live in a community with a pool, you can research local pool management companies and visit their website.
Lifeguard Requirements and Training
In order to be a lifeguard, you must go through a certification class. There are a few options for training. American Red Cross is the most recognized organization for lifeguard training; however, there are others that offer classes as well. Jeff Ellis and Associates and National Aquatic Safety are two other companies that offer courses for lifeguarding. Training can cost anywhere from $125-$300 and can last from 21 hours-40 hours, depending on the company. The most direct route is to contact the pool management company you wish to work for and ask about their training program.
Some pool management companies provide training on their own. Checking with the different pool management companies in your area could help you decide what organization will best suit your needs. Many of these companies offer different payment options, such as paying upfront or allowing the cost of the course to be deducted from your paychecks. There are also companies that have “referral programs”, which can help reduce the cost by referring a friend. If you have friends that have guarded in the past, find out what company they worked for and what opportunities might be available. Being “referred” to that company can help you and your friend.
The requirements for becoming a lifeguard are pretty common among all organizations. Usually, you must be 15 years old by the time you have completed the class. As far as water skills, you must be able to swim 200-400 yards, tread water for two minutes, and grab a 10-pound brick from 8-12 feet of water with a feet-first surface dive. The course should cover CPR, First Aid, and AED training. American Red Cross lifeguard training is valid for 2 years while organizations, such as Jeff Ellis and Associates, are only valid for a year. When considering the time frame your license is valid, it may seem appealing to obtain a license that expires every 2 years, however, ask yourself this… Will you remember EVERYTHING about CPR and saving lives? Being licensed by a company that requires annual training will refresh your skills and increase your confidence to maintain a safe pool. Look for companies that provide continual training in-season to help keep you on your toes throughout the summer as well.
More Than Just a Guard
Being a lifeguard is more than just a summer job. Not only will you get a great tan but you will gain valuable skills that will help you become a well-rounded individual. You will communicate with pool patrons, work hand-in-hand with other guards, and provide a safe work environment. But most importantly, you will become a role model to many of the children visiting your facility. Lifeguarding is an incredible opportunity that will allow you to meet wonderful people and develop life and job skills that will last forever.
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