Lifeguarding is a hard, yet rewarding job

“Lifeguarding has to be one of the best summer jobs for students,” says Lizzie Giller. The 21-year-old college student is looking forward to returning for her second summer as a lifeguard at the Ransburg YMCA. “It taught me leadership and teamwork. In training, you learn about things that can happen if you’re not paying attention. But if I do my job well, it makes me feel good to know how to save people.”

Dylan Atkins, a high school student who is nearing his one-year anniversary as a lifeguard, agrees.

“It’s a really good summer job. And it’s flexible year-round… I can work and still have time to study and for other activities. And there’s the life skills, training CPR and first aid… I definitely recommend it.”

Ready for action

Fortunately, neither of these great lifeguards have had to activate the EAP (emergency action plan), the sign that something has gone wrong. But they would be ready. Every lifeguard prepares for that moment with hours of team in-service trainings, different scenarios, both planned and live-action, so everyone knows their role, should a true crisis happen.

Certified heroes, without the cape

Certification is considered the most strenuous aspect of the job. The YMCA certification program requires applicants to be at least 16 years old and demonstrate fitness by continuous swimming, treading water using the legs only, and retrieving objects from underwater, like a 10-pound brick. Successful candidates receive CPR/AED, first-aid and oxygen administration training, along with earning certification as a lifeguard.

The course is a combination of classroom and eLearning with at least 13 hours of full-contact, semi-strenuous training in the pool. The physical challenge depends on the level of conditioning required. By the end of each class, everyone knows each other well, like teammates or recruits in basic training. Lifeguards typically have fond memories of their first certification class and develop a bond with their classmates that continues to grow.

More than a class

Lifeguards learn responsibility, teamwork and customer service skills—working with people of all ages, from all backgrounds—the life-lessons of how to treat everyone equally and fair and pay special attention to babies and older swimmers. Lifeguarding is more like being on a sports team than it is being an employee or member of a work crew.

Unfortunately, this is one of those jobs that requires training and certification before you can be hired. Some high schools offer certification as a class, for PE credit, a class that costs $300+ per student. This creates a barrier for some and can keep a strong swimmer from landing that great first job.

Lifeguards needed – you can help!

Lizzie and Dylan both benefited from financial assistance to get trained. By contributing to the Adopt-a-Lifeguard fund, you can directly support an East side teenager who will receive certification AND a job!

The Y has lots of jobs in and around water all around town. Check out all of the splashy job opportunities!