The role of a Lifeguard is to monitor and supervise aquatic activities. They are in charge of ensuring that all users follow the pre-established security measures to avoid injuries and other accidents. Lifeguards are also responsible for responding to any emergency that may occur in a timely manner.
Lifeguards are usually employed by beach and pool administrations, hotels and resorts, along with any other recreational and community establishment that offers aquatic activities. Employment in locations with outdoor pools and beach administrations tend to hire Lifeguards on a seasonal basis, mostly during the summer. However, places with indoor aquatic activities hire Lifeguards during the entire year.
On larger beaches, there are often several Lifeguards working at the same time in order to cover the wide area and large number of users. In these cases, Lifeguards work as a team, staying in constant contact with each other and are usually coordinated by a Chief or Head Lifeguard.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Lifeguards are required to complete.
- Patrolling and monitoring pool areas and beaches:
- Observing activities in designated areas;
- looking out for safety hazards and infractions;
- checking environmental conditions (e.g. weather and tides) to avoid hazards;
- preventing users from going into the water when weather conditions are bad;
- warning users of potential hazards and safety procedures; and
- enforcing safety procedures.
- Inspecting rescue and recreational equipment (e.g. ropes, flotation devices, or diving boards) to ensure correct functioning:
- Writing reports based on state of equipment; and
- requesting repairs and replacements, if any.
- Responding to emergencies in a timely manner:
- Rescuing distressed users when necessary;
- carrying distressed users to a safe location using flotation devices;
- examining distressed users to assess their situation;
- administering first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) when needed;
- calling an ambulance in cases of serious injuries or the firefighters in case of a fire or a power failure at the facility;
- activating the alarm and closing the swimming pool/beach in case of an extreme emergency; and
- evacuating the area when necessary (e.g. fire in the building, a power outage, natural disasters, among others).
- Cleaning the area and maintaining quality of water:
- Removing objects from the water using a net;
- testing chemical levels of pools; and
- adjusting chemical levels according to procedure.
- Writing and filing reports on pool and beach condition, emergencies, and other relevant information.
- Participating in safety procedures demonstrations and teaching swimming lessons.
- Assembling rescue supplies and equipment.
- Monitoring pool and beach activities.
- Calling out infractions and ensuring swimmers are complying with all safety rules and regulations.
- Monitoring weather conditions and tides on the beach.
- Regulating chemical levels in pools.
- Cleaning the pool/beach area (e.g. bathrooms and ground areas) and organizing the equipment.
- Responding to emergencies in a timely manner.
- Administering first aid and CPR when necessary.
- Demonstrating safety procedures.
The average Lifeguard salary in USA is $40,752 per year or $21 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $29,000 while most experienced workers make up to $57,000. These results are based on 1,778 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Excellent physical condition and stamina:
- Being an excellent swimmer;
- being healthy, without respiratory problems;
- being able to reach distressed users in the water; and
- being capable of carrying distressed users outside the water.
- Strong observational and awareness skills:
- Being capable of monitoring the activities of several users at the same time;
- looking out for possible hazards or safety violations; and
- noticing emergencies as soon as they happen.
- Good interpersonal and communication skills:
- Being capable of conveying instructions to users and to explain safety procedures and rules to them in a clear and calm manner;
- being capable of calling out infractions in a respectful yet authoritative manner; and
- being able to explain emergencies and injuries to medical personnel in a clear and concise manner.
- Excellent team work and leadership skills:
- Being able to work as part of a team, assisting other members of the team when necessary; and
- relaying instructions and responsibilities to teammates.
- Good stress management and decision making skills:
- Being capable of reacting to emergencies in a calm manner;
- assessing emergencies according to procedure; and
- requesting medical assistance for serious injuries.
- High levels of reliability, honesty, and integrity.
Job opportunities as a Lifeguard are available from a wide variety of employers, both in a seasonal and all-year basis. The educational requirements for this job can vary depending on the employer, because some require applicants to have completed secondary school education, whereas some others usually hire high school students.
To become a Lifeguard, applicants need to hold a current and valid working license. In the United States, there are several organizations that offer the necessary training programs to join the field; the most well-known being the american Red Cross, the YMCA, Starfish Aquatics Institute, NASCO, and Ellis and Associates. Before joining a program, applicants have to choose what aquatic area they want to work in (e.g. swimming pools, beaches, or open-water areas, such lakes or rivers, or waterparks) in order to receive the proper training and certification.
For instance, Lifeguards working on beaches, known as surf environments, must monitor the safety of swimmers who face more dangers than in any other aquatic area. In this case, candidates need to be trained at the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), which has certified agencies all over the country. This training is usually more demanding, as they must also learn about tides, currents, and marine animals.
All Lifeguards must complete a first aid or CPR/AED certification, along with any other applicable safety protocol, which are included in the training programs offered by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association. Most employers offer an in-house training for new employees. A physical examination is also often required, as well as a proven demonstration of swimming abilities. Previous experience in aquatic related activities can also be an asset for applicants.