Lifeguard Training: How to Become a Lifeguard

If you are interested in how to become a lifeguard, you'll need to know what type of training it takes.

Training/Certification

First of all, most lifeguards have to be at least 18 years old, although some pools accept 16- and 17-year-olds with proper credentials. You will need to be trained in CPR and get your lifeguard certification. Depending on where you want to work (e.g., a pool, water park, beach), the requirements will vary. Some may require you to take a physical or written test or both. You might ask what the specific requirements are when you fill out your employment application.

Wherever you decide to work, you should take a lifeguard training course like the American Red Cross lifeguard training class. Such a class will give you training in water surveillance, rescue skills and first aid. To find a class in your area, you can check with your local YMCA or YWCA. You might also contact the pools or gyms in your area to see if they offer nationally recognized certification training from NASCO, the Starfish Aquatics Institute or Ellis & Associates. Sometimes pools looking for lifeguards either offer their own training or are willing to pay for the cost of your training elsewhere. Regardless of where you get your certification, you will have to be a strong swimmer who is in good shape. Don't be surprised if you are asked to pass a swim test before being accepted into a lifeguard training program.

If you are accepted, pay attention in class and practice what you learn. Swim regularly and study any textbooks you get. The classes usually last about six weeks. When the course is done, you will usually have to pass a written test, a CPR test, a swim test and a rescue test.

Once you have successfully completed your lifeguard training course and passed all your tests, you will receive your basic certification. If you want to teach swimming or aquatic safety classes, you will need your Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification. Then it's time to start applying for jobs at different pools, waterparks, camps, and beaches.

Tips/Advice

Lifeguards need to have good people skills to interact with both children and adult swimmers as well as their fellow lifeguards and supervisors. You'll also have to be patient and mature and exhibit a great deal of self-control, especially in emergency situations.

Once you are certified, you can always increase your credentials by getting more advanced training by taking head lifeguard and professional rescuer courses. Doing so will give you the credentials to get the top paying lifeguard jobs.

While you are working as a lifeguard, it's important to stay in shape. You might consider lifting weights to build strength. Eating a good diet and getting enough sleep will also keep you sharp and ready in case an emergency situation arises.

Common advantages of being a lifeguard are getting to work outside and make lots of friends. While lifeguarding can be fun, it's not always easy. You will have to have a positive attitude even in potentially stressful situations. Being a lifeguard is a job that has to be taken seriously since other people's safety depends on you.