The Definitive Guide: How To Become A Lifeguard

Published on: 18 Jul 2018
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So you’ve spent your childhood dreaming of being a superhero, you’ve gazed at the TV screen watching Pamela Anderson heroically sprinting in slow motion towards distressed swimmers and you’ve spent many hours in and out of the local swimming pool.

Now, you’re wondering how you can put your swimming hobby, combined with your childhood dream of saving lives together to start a career.

What is a Lifeguard?

A lifeguard does more than just sit on a mega tall chair in the sunshine. You may think it is an easy and relaxed job, however a lifeguard has a huge responsibility to protect and save the public from danger, which could include anything from high tides to poolside injuries.

A lifeguard’s core responsibility is to ensure the safety of all swimmers, and can be a very rewarding job. You will have to be brave, alert, and ready to help the public. Some of your working days may seem long and boring, however it’s important to know that it will be down to you if anything does go wrong whilst you are on shift.

  • Job Description

    You’ll be sitting around a lot of the time observing swimmers but when it’s show time, you will have a serious responsibility to act fast and use your skills to save the day. You could be working at a public swimming pool, the beach, a waterpark or even late night pool parties. You’ll most likely be working within a team so this could be a great opportunity to meet like-minded people.

  • Hours of Work

    Lifeguarding hours are usually part time but as with any job, it can also be full time. This job requires flexibility and you will be required to work weekends, evenings and public holidays. If you decide to work on a beach, you will be required to work the warm summer days during daylight hours between May and September – so a bonus to this job is that you can spend your entire summer on the beach, perfecting your tan whilst working!

  • Main Responsibilities

    So, what will your main responsibilities be when working as a lifeguard? There may be more than you anticipated…

    • Maintain a vigilant watch of the swimming areas
    • Rescue distressed people from the water
    • Examine injured individuals, administer first aid and alert the emergency services when necessary
    • If working outside, maintain daily information on weather and beach conditions
    • Observing sea conditions and putting up safety flags
    • Ensure that safety equipment is in full working order and report any damages to management
    • Take necessary action to prevent any casualties
    • Handle and record lost property
    • Patrol areas to ensure maximum safety and prevent illegal conduct
    • Attend staff meetings
    • Advising swimmers on how to use diving boards and any other equipment
    • Cleaning the pool (If applicable)

Key Lifeguard Qualifications

Now you know what the job involves, what qualifications will you need to have to impress the employers?

In some cases, lifeguarding stems from a love of swimming and from being part of a swimming club or society. You may already have achieved the below qualifications at a young age but if you haven’t, don’t fret – some companies may fund your training for you. These are the qualifications you will need:

  • National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ) You must be 16 or over to take the final assessment and you must be able to dive into deep water, swim 50 metres in less than 60 seconds, swim 100 metres continuously in deep water, tread water for 30 seconds, surface dive to the floor of the pool and climb out unaided without a ladder or steps.
  • First Aid Qualifications First aid is a fundamental part of the job role and a qualification will be essential to prove that you have the training and the knowledge of how to assist someone in an emergency, for example you will have to know how to perform CPR.
  • You will be required to have a background check, but the company usually arranges this.
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Vital Lifeguard Skills

Aside from looking cool poolside, here is a list of the skills you will need for this job:

  • Strong swimming skills
  • Responsible
  • Attentive
  • Patient
  • Energetic
  • Physically fit
  • Ability to remain calm and act quickly
  • Good customer service
  • Communication skills

What is a Lifeguard’s Salary?

Now we’re getting down to the nitty gritty…

The starting salary for full time lifeguards is around £12,000 to £16,000. Part time employees will be paid on an hourly rate, which on average is between £7 and £10.50 an hour.

lifeguard salery

How to become a Lifeguard

The key to becoming a lifeguard is having the right qualifications and training to be able to do the job properly. Once you have the skills, it shouldn’t be too difficult to bag yourself a job.

You can look online for local lifeguarding jobs; there are plenty of opportunities that you can apply for. Ensure that you make your love and passion for swimming clear on your CV as well as any training or experience you may have under your belt.

If you are already part of a swimming community, it will be easier to spot any internal opportunities. You can ask a manager to inform you of when a position arises. This way, they will already know you and may already know your swimming ability.

How to Develop a Lifeguard Career

So, imagine for a second that you’ve been a Lifeguard for some time – what next?

  • There are many opportunities to be had following on from a career as a lifeguard. The next logical step would be to climb the ladder and become a team leader to other lifeguards. If you want to see the world whilst working, you can work as a lifeguard on board a cruise ship, or even use your lifeguarding qualification to get a job abroad.

  • Or, seeing as you have a passion for swimming, why not pursue a career as a swimming teacher to youngsters or a coach to more serious swimmers? This is also a rewarding job, as you will watch your students achieve great things due to your hard work.

  • If you will want a career change, why not look into personal training? You are physically fit, love helping others and don’t enjoy the usual 9-5 office based work.

Career Opportunities

  • You can find some of the best lifeguarding jobs with some fantastic companies such as David Lloyd Clubs, Everyone Active, Nuffield Health, Virgin Active and many more.

    If you’re ready to take on the challenge, then get out there and make a difference. You are closer than you think to securing a job and becoming that hero that you’ve always wanted to be. Go save some lives!