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Lifeguard, Gate Guard, or Pool Attendant?

Posted January 6, 2017

When searching for a pool job, you are sometimes faced with a tough decision: Lifeguard, Gate Guard, or Pool Attendant?  It may be hard to spot the differences between these three important pool positions.  We have compiled a list of tasks below to show you how each different position would complete them.  

Assisting Guests:

Lifeguard:  It is crucial for Lifeguards to monitor the guests and pool area for any unsafe situations.  Lifeguards should never leave their post unless someone is able to cover for them.  This means that if a guest needs non-life-saving assistance, a Lifeguard may ask one of their team members who may be a Pool Attendant or Gate Guard to help the guest.

Lifeguards need to stay in communication with guests at all time and be able to make announcements of any nature that everyone can hear.  For example, if a guest is struggling in the water due to lack of swimming ability, it is the Lifeguards duty to assist that swimmer by helping them with basic swimming instruction, or directing them to a class for beginner swimming to help ensure the guest’s safety.  

Gate Guard:  Assisting guests is a main task for Gate Guards.  They are the ones who keep control of the entrance and exit, check guests in, take attendance for swim classes, and more.  If a guest needs help with something, a Gate Guard should be able to assist them right away.  Some gate guards may also sell concessions, which means they need to be in control and aware of all monetary transactions that take place.  

Pool Attendant: Pool Attendants are available to help guests with any issues that may arise.  They may also take walks around the pool area at specific times, to double check that everyone is following facility rules and no one is in need of assistance.  They can hand out towels, assist with finding chairs, or anything a guest may request.  It is important to some facilities that Pool Attendants build a relationship with members to help them feel comfortable at the pool.  

Maintaining the Pool Area:

Lifeguard:  Lifeguards may help before or after a shift to clean and maintain the pool area. While they are on duty, they are only maintaining the safety of the guests and enforcing facility rules.  

Gate Guard: Gate Guards will most likely have maintaining the pool area on their task list when they are not checking guests in or selling concessions. They can help with keeping the bathrooms clean and the areas surrounding the pool, taking any trash or unwanted items.  It is also the Gate Guard’s duty to assist their teammates in any way when they are available.  
Pool Attendant: One of the main duties of a pool attendant is to maintain the pool and the pool area.  Throughout their shift they will clean and maintain the pool deck, pool bathrooms, and skim the pool.  This can include wiping down chairs, mopping/sweeping the pool deck, replacing flags, rescuing frogs or other animals, wiping down signs, and more. Pool Attendants may be able to perform minor maintenance on a pool accessory like a slide, but major maintenance is always done by a Certified Pool Professional (CPO) to ensure that everything is kept up to code and done safely.  

Handling Chemicals:

Lifeguard: Depending on the facility, some Lifeguards will help test and maintain the pool’s chemical level.  They should relay all test results to the Lifeguard Manager or CPO to ensure that the pool stays clean and safe.

Gate Guard: It is important that Gate Guard’s assist Lifeguards or Pool Attendants with any issues that may arise.  However, maintaining the pool chemical level is not on their task list, as they need to stay focused on checking in guests and handling the front of the facility.  

Pool Attendant: The Pool Attendant can assist the facility manager or CPO with anything they may need, however they are not certified to handle pool chemicals or pool maintenance.  Anything major will be left up to the CPO, and any issues that arise should be relayed to the on-duty manager so that it can be handled accordingly.  

Life-Saving Action:

Lifeguard: This is the bread and butter of a Lifeguard’s job.  Every Lifeguard is expertly trained in rescue techniques.  Even the strongest of swimmers can suddenly become a victim to drowning.  Drowning is the 3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide.  Having trained Lifeguards monitoring the safety of guests is the foremost important task at hand for a pool facility that employs Lifeguards.  Preventing drowning accidents and injuries is the only thing Lifeguards should be worried about when they are working their post.  

Gate Guard: Gate Guards are not trained as extensively as Lifeguards when it comes to life saving techniques.  Facilities can sometimes require CPR and First Aid training so that Gate Guards can assist Lifeguards in an emergency.  However, legally the Gate Guards do not have the ability to perform life-saving action in the way that Lifeguards do.  If an emergency were to occur, a Gate Guard could retrieve a First Aid kit, contact emergency services, or other needed tasks for the individual situation.  

Pool Attendant:  Pool Attendants have a similar relationship to life saving as Gate Guards do.  If needed, a Pool Attendant will jump into action, however this should be left up to the certified Lifeguard.  A Pool Attendant can help the guests keep calm during an emergency situation, and deal with any services that may be needed while the Lifeguard stays with the injured guest.  

Enforcing Rules:

Lifeguard: It is imperative that Lifeguards understand all of the facilities guidelines for using the pool.  It is their duty to monitor everyone using the pool area and make sure that everyone is enjoying themselves in a safe manner.  Each pool has different rules, but mainly the Lifeguard will speak with guests who are not following the rules and explain to them the safety issues and why the guidelines must be followed.  All of this is done from their post, as they should continue to keep watch of the pool and not allow distractions.  

Gate Guard: While monitoring the entrance, Gate Guards can talk to guests and members about the facilities rules, especially rules that may follow specific HOA guidelines.  It is a great way to introduce the facility and make sure that everyone who participates is aware of the rules in place.  If a Gate Guard were to see anyone breaking the rules, it is their job to step in and make sure things are made safe once again.  

Pool Attendant: Pool Attendants find themselves dealing with guests often, and it is important they discuss with and remind guests of the rules set for the facility if necessary.  

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It is important to keep in mind that every facility is different, and many of these tasks may be combined or switched depending on the needs of each individual pool.  The essential thing for a Lifeguard to remember is that they should focus solely on the safety of the guests.  The Gate Guards must keep track of all guests coming in and out of the facility, along with serving food and keeping a head count for swim classes.  The Pool Attendant will maintain the overall cleanliness of the pool deck and surrounding area while assisting guests with anything they need.

Any of these positions provides flexible hours, competitive pay, and a fun team environment! American Pool is hiring now for various positions near you, check out our jobs page to find a spot on one of our teams!