If being a lifeguard is your dream career, then you’ll need to gain your lifeguard certification. Although the training and exams are intense and rigorous, if you’ve got the determination, it’s an incredibly rewarding career. Not only will you learn how to keep people safe, but you’ll also gain valuable skills for the future, such as teamwork, good organization, and time management.
So you’ve decided on your chosen career, now what do you? How do become a certified lifeguard? What kind of training will you need to go through? In this useful guide, we aim to give advice on how to get into the world of lifeguarding and which type is best for you.
If you’re wanting to know how to get started, make sure you read on to find out everything from how to become a lifeguard and what your training will involve, to which tests you’ll need to take and how to prepare for them.
As the name says, you’ll be responsible for keeping people safe in the water. You'll need to be able to immediately respond to aquatic emergencies.
First, you need to decide exactly what kind of lifeguard you want to be. The term lifeguard does sound quite general, but in fact, there are different types and each one has different tests and certifications needed to qualify.
The most common type is simply called lifeguarding. Earning this certification means you’ll be qualified to work at swimming pools and you'll have to ensure that all pool patrons are abiding by the rules. Many pools are popular with parents and their kids. With children being so unpredictable it’s vital that you’re alert and are able to react quickly.
Surf lifeguarding is where most people want to work. You’ll get to work on the beach every day and soak up the sun. This type of lifeguarding, however, is the hardest to qualify for. The exam is rigorous and extremely intense and for good reason. The ocean can be a dangerous place and rescuing someone from the sea is not for the faint-hearted.
First, you’ll need to choose a lifeguard training program suitable for you and enroll in it. You may be required to take and pass a swimming test first, so make sure your skills in that area are up to scratch. The American Red Cross offers lifeguard certification online and in person.
Lifeguard certification class near you will cover a wide range of topics and skills you’ll need to become an accomplished lifeguard. If you’re a very hands-on kind of person, you can opt for group training in a classroom setting. Or you can go for a mix of classroom lessons and online work if you’re not able to attend a class every time.
You’ll learn about everything from first aid, water safety training, CPR and AED administration. Generally, courses tend to start at $80-$100 and are between 15-30 hours long. Make sure that you're in good shape before you begin. Take swimming lessons if you don’t think your swimming skills are up to scratch. Having lessons beforehand will give you a real confidence boost before you take on this rigorous training.
Once you’ve completed your course you’ll need to take your exam. Exams often make a lot of people nervous but don’t worry. As long as you attended all of your lifeguard classes, you’ll have all the information and training needed to pass the exam with flying colors.
You’ll be required to do the retrieval test, this involves swimming 20 yards and then diving to collect a 10-pound object that has been dropped. You then need to swim back to your starting point, holding the object above the water.
Make sure you can exit the water without using a ladder as this is a requirement as part of your test. As well as this, you need to be able to swim 300 yards without stopping. You also need to be able to tread water for 2 minutes using just your legs.
Once you've passed the exam you'll be a qualified lifeguard. Your certification is valid for two years so if you want to continue your career as a lifeguard, you'll need to take a review course. Lifeguarding courses are usually available all year round, and you'll receive training from experts who can help you to develop lifesaving skills.