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How to Become a Lifeguard

By Julia Southerland | Posted April 24, 2017 in Lifeguard Job,Lifestyle

Summer is almost here, which means now is the time to start thinking about what your next adventure is going to be! Joining Guard for Life will not only help you make a difference in your community and earn competitive pay, but you’ll make life-long friends and it looks great on resumes. If this is your first summer considering a lifeguard job, let us show you just what steps you need to take to earn that Guard for Life badge and become a lifeguard.

Where do I start?

We have over 10 offices across the nation, and each office holds many hiring events and open houses throughout the winter and spring. These events can help you get hired on the spot! Don’t worry, your training will come after you get hired. Open Houses are perfect for a rookie lifeguard looking to learn more about the job. Our recruiters are expertly trained to prepare you for the road ahead. If you are unable to attend a hiring event or open house, our website lets you search all of our current open jobs and has an application form that can be filled out in minutes.

Once you have been hired by your local Guard for Life office, our recruiters have set up training courses that you must take before suiting up this season. There are many courses to choose from, and returning lifeguards have the ability to take a Lifeguard Training Review class to renew their certification and freshen up their skills. Rookie lifeguards or lifeguards with an expired certification must complete the full Lifeguard Training Course, which consists of passing the physical pretest, and then taking the Lifeguard Training Class. Once you’ve completed the class you will be LGT/CPR/AED American Red Cross certified! Look below for descriptions of these courses.


Lifeguard Training Course

This American Red Cross Lifeguard course provides entry-level lifeguard participants with the knowledge and skills to prevent, recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide care for breathing and cardiac emergencies, injuries and sudden illnesses until emergency medical services (EMS) personnel take over. This class consists of a physical swimming pretest that must be completed before continuing in the class. Some offices may advertise the pretest and training class separately, but they are considered one full course. Below are the requirements for the lifeguard training course.

The Pretest
The physical pretest must be completed before you can continue on to the training class portion of the course.

  • Swim 300 yards continuously demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing. Candidates may swim using the front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of both but swimming on the back or side is not allowed. Swim goggles may be used.
  • Tread water for 2 minutes using only the legs. Candidates should place their hands under the armpits.
  • Complete a timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds.
    • Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. The face may be in or out of the water. Swim goggles are not allowed.
    • Surface dive, feet-first or head-first, to a depth of 7 to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound object.
    • Return to the surface and swim 20 yards to return to the starting point with both hands holding the object and keeping the face at or near the surface so they are able to get a breath. Candidates should not swim the distance under water.
    • Exit the water without using a ladder or steps.

The Training Class

  • To pass this course, you must attend all class sessions, successfully perform all required skills, complete three final skill scenarios, and pass the written exam with a minimum grade of 80% or better on each section.
  • You must bring your ticket, bathing suit, towel, a notepad and pen, and a snack if you’d like.
  • You must demonstrate competency in all skills and activities
  • This class is approximately 30 hours long usually over the course of a week.

Lifeguarding Training Review Course

Returning lifeguards who are looking to recertify may take the Lifeguard Training Review course, as long as their current certification has not expired. If your certification is close to expiring or has just expired, contact your local office on what training options you have. Once a lifeguard’s certification expires they MUST take the full Lifeguard Training Course. Below are the requirements for the Training Review Course.

  • You must completed the physical pretest as described above.
  • The review course is about 9 hours long, including the pretest.
  • You must bring your current lifeguard training certification.
  • You must demonstrate competency in all skills and activities
  • You must pass the written exam with a minimum grade of 80% or better on each section.

After completing your training, you are officially an American Red Cross Lifeguard and a member of our Guard for Life family! Your local recruiter will help manage which facilities you work at, and keep them close to home if you’d like. All that’s left is for you to make some serious cash with us this summer. Get a jump start on the next school year with a nice cushion of savings from summer 2017!

Head on over to our contact page and find your local office to get the hiring process started. To find a lifeguard training course near you visit our training page. We also teach Pool Operator courses, CPR/AED Professional Rescue Courses, and Lifeguard Instructor courses, check out all our class types here.

Apply now