Lifeguard trainees learn to make the water a safer place for the rest of
us. If you love to swim and can take charge in an emergency, consider this
In the U.S., lifeguards are certified by the Red Cross or the United States
Lifesaving Association. They often receive their training through local organizations,
employers or private training facilities certified by one of these two bodies.
You can complete lifeguard training in a relatively short time.
"For a general lifeguard in pool, [training] takes 40 hours -- two-hour classes
four times a week and classroom or textbook study and exams," says Lauran
Gangl. She owns the Beach Swim School in Florida.
Gangl prefers to hire college graduates with an education degree, but she
will hire a high school grad or college student who has experience teaching
and working with kids.
Rebecca Boyd is a former fitness and aquatics coordinator at a university.
She says that a standard lifeguard training program will train you in first
aid, CPR, pool rescues, cold water rescues, spinal injuries and more.
Before you start training, you will already have to be a good swimmer.
To pass the exams, you "must be able to swim a distance of 1,000 yards in
20 minutes or less, pass an oral exam, background check for criminal record,
physical examination and must be 18 years old," says Gangl. You must have
good eyesight and cannot be on any medication that could affect your physical
"The ideal qualities for budding lifeguards include the ability to work
in a team; relaxed demeanor on deck; first aid; ability to effectively communicate
with a team or partner, and the public," says Boyd.
"He or she must be physically fit, open to feedback, willing to question
things and provide feedback to a supervisor. Ability to make a decision
and follow through is also important," she adds.
The proper preparation is helpful. "Public speaking, public relations
and physical education are the kinds of classes that students should be
focusing on in high school to succeed in this program," says Boyd.
"Extracurricular activities like volunteering at the local pool,
volunteering with children, and any sport that teaches teamwork and dedication
to working with the public would be helpful in preparation for lifeguard training."
"Be on a swim team," advises Gangl. "Volunteer at local aquariums
or marine organizations. Get your scuba dive certification and belong to a
Don't expect your lifeguarding education to end with certification. Once
hired, you'll have plenty of ongoing training to ensure that your skills are
always at their peak.
Occupational Outlook HandbookFor more information related to this field of study, see: Athletes,
Coaches, Umpires and Related Workers
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