Becoming a lifeguard can be a very rewarding thing, especially if you are passionate about ensuring the safety of people while they are enjoying themselves at the beach or at the pool. But being a lifeguard means so much more than just knowing how to swim and having a buff body. There are things that you need to do before you can be considered as a real, certified lifeguard. In order to be able to become qualified to be a lifeguard, you need to make sure that you meet these requirements, and that you do all the necessary steps.
What are different Types of Lifeguard Courses
First of all, you need to know that the requirements for beach lifeguards as well as pool lifeguards differ, so you need to determine where you want to work before you begin. This is because there are so many different factors that affect the safety of people on the beach as well as the people swimming in the pool.
With the latest update in 2012, Red Cross now offers two core lifeguarding courses along with 6 other optional addons.
Core Lifeguarding Courses
- Lifeguard Training [or Basic Lifeguarding] is the standard pool lifeguard certificate for all entry level participants at all facility types [Shallow as well as Deep Water]
- Shallow Water Attendant – This is for people who will supervise shallow water up to 4 feet deep. (The lifeguard and waterfront lifeguard courses also cover this material.)
Optional Addon Courses
- Waterfront Lifeguard Training -It includes the standard lifeguard training and adds lake, river and non-surf beach lifeguard skills.
- Waterpark Lifeguarding – for waterpark environments, multi-attraction facilities and traditional pools
- Bloodborne Pathogens Training
- Anaphylaxis & Epinephrine Auto-Injectors
- Administering Emergency Oxygen
When you enroll for lifeguard course, you can choose what type of lifeguard certification you want.
|Core Courses||Type of Facility||Length|
|Lifeguarding||For entry-level participants at all facility types||Less than 26 hours|
|Shallow Water Lifeguarding||For entry-level participants at facilities/attractions with water less than 5 feet deep||24 hours|
|Optional Add-On Courses||Type of Facility/Training||Length|
|Waterfront Skills||For non-surf, open-water areas at public parks, resorts, camps and campgrounds||5½ hours|
|Waterpark Skills||For waterpark environments and multi-attraction facilities||3½ hours|
|Administering Emergency Oxygen||How to use emergency oxygen and breathing devices, including bag-valve-mask resuscitators (BVM)||less than 2 hours|
|Asthma||How to administer an asthma inhaler to an individual experiencing an asthma attack||45 minutes|
|Anaphylaxis & Epinephrine Auto-Injectors||How to administer an epinephrine auto-injector to an individual experiencing a severe allergic reaction||1 hour|
|Bloodborne Pathogens Training||How bloodborne pathogens are spread, how to avoid exposure and what to do if exposed||1 to 2 hours|
Who offers lifeguarding certification
There are many associations that offer training and classes for lifeguards, but make sure that you take those by associations that are recognized by the lifeguard association of your area. In the United States, this is the American Lifeguard Association. The safest choice is to be trained by the Red Cross. There are Red Cross offices all over the world, and they are recognized as being able to give people top-notch training for almost anything at all, and that includes becoming a lifeguard.
In USA, Lifeguard certifications from following organizations are recongnised:
|Lifeguarding (pool only, includes First aid, Pro CPR)||2 year certification||Modules|
|Waterfront Lifeguarding||2 year certification|
|Waterpark Lifeguarding||2 year certification|
|Star Guard (pool only)||1 year certification|
|additional modules required for waterpark, waterfront and wilderness|
|BSA Lifeguard||3 years certification|
|Special Facilities Lifeguard (Water parks and open waters only)||1 year certification|
|Pool Lifeguard (Max 16′ depth flat pools only)||1 year certification|
|Shallow Water Lifeguard (Max 5′ depth flat pools only)||1 year certification|
|YMCA Lifeguard||2 year certification|
|Water park Deep water Lifeguard (>5′)||1 year certification|
|Water park Shallow water Lifeguard (<5')||1 year certification|
|Basic Lifeguard||1 year certification|
|Open Water Lifeguard (excludes Ocean and Tidal waters)||1 year certification|
Of these, the American Red Cross most likely has the most recognized name and certification, and many people choose to attend their Lifeguard Training Program if they are pursuing a career in a competitive region. Those looking for work in Los Angeles or nearby environs, however, may find the certification through the City of Los Angeles to be preferable, as it is generally recognized as the best lifeguard certification in the region.
What are the Prerequisites for Lifeguard Training
To get accepted in the course, you need to be at least 15 [fifteen] years old and you have to pass the pre-course swim test. The criteria for Swim test is different for each type of lifeguard course.
- You need to be 15 years of age on or before the final scheduled class session
- Bring proof of age to first class (birth certificate, driver’s license, etc.)
- Swim 300 yards continuously using the strokes in the following order:
- 1. 100 yards front crawl using rhythmic breathing and stabilizing propellant kick
- 2. 100 yards of breast stroke (whip kick & timing of stroke)
- 3. 100 yards of front crawl and/or breaststroke. This can be a mixture of front crawl and breast stroke.
- 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.
What Skills you will learn during course
The Red Cross Lifeguard Training program will give you all the basic information and training that you need. These include skills in surveillance, first aid, rescue, and of course, CPR [Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation]. It is these things that you need to be fully capable of doing in order for the American Lifeguard Association to deem you trustworthy enough to trust with the lives of the people.
The Lifeguard Course will teach candidates the Knowledge and skills needed to prevent and respond to aquatic emergencies. The course content and activities prepare candidates to recognize and respond quickly and effectively to emergencies and prevent drowning and injuries. Listed below you will find a list of skills that will be covered in this course.
- Surveillance skills – This will help you recognize and prevent injuries
- Rescue skills – in the water and on land, including equipment-based rescues
- First aid training and CPR for professional rescuer – to help you prepare for any emergency
- Professional lifeguard responsibilities like interacting with the public and addressing uncooperative patrons
- How to recognize and care for possible head, neck or back injuries.
Certifications you will get after Course
- Lifeguard Training [or Basic Lifeguarding] Certification (This certification is valid for 2 years according to new American Red Cross Policy Effective January 2012)
- CPR [Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation] for the Professional Rescuer (valid for 2 year)
- First Aid (valid for 2 years)
- Automated External De-fibrillation [AED] certification;
Apart from the above standard certificates, some courses also include following certs
- Administering Emergency Oxygen [valid for 2 years]
- Epinephrine Auto Injector Administration
- Bloodborne Pathogens: Preventing Disease Transmission certificate [valid for 1 year]
Applying for Lifeguard Jobs
Once you have been able to complete these things, you are now ready to fill out an application. The area that you will apply will also be important on whether or not you will be accepted. Places that are known for having large droves of tourists will hardly ever accept first timers, so if you want to fill up your credentials you may want to work in smaller areas first. After all, these are the lives of people that will be dependent on you, and the people who are managing the beach and the pool need to make sure that you are the right choice.