Lifeguard Job Description

  • Lifeguard job descriptionLifeguards average around $9.25 per hour
  • Most lifeguards work less than 40 hours per week
  • You'll need to get certified to be a lifeguard

If Michael Phelps fell in love with Wonder Woman, their baby would make a great lifeguard. Seriously, who doesn’t want to save lives (translation: be a hero) and get a tan at the same time? Lifeguard jobs could have you touring the world on a cruise ship, chilling in the summer sun at your local pool, or living out your beach bum fantasy all summer long.

Most lifeguards don't work 40 hours a week. You'll have to work nights and weekends, probably irregular hours, and the work is largely seasonal, so it's not a job for everyone. Typically about 40 percent of all recreational workers work part time.

Being a lifeguard means you're trusted with the lives of others, so you'll need to be extremely responsible, attentive, and patient ("No running! Slow down!"). You'll be rewarded for your hard work with cases of Fla-Vor-Ice pops, microwave snack-bar pizza and a shiny whistle, which is awesome.

How much do lifeguards make?

The average hourly pay for all lifeguards is around $9.25 per hour, but will vary by experience and location. Experienced beach lifeguards can earn $16 per hour or more.

Education requirements

A high school diploma or GED is typically not required for most lifeguard jobs. You will probably need some sort of certification, however, from the Red Cross or another training program. Lots of employers require lifeguards to pass a certification test. This test includes both physical challenges and a written exam to ensure you're capable of performing the necessary duties of the job. Training and certification details vary depending on where you live, but you can find out exactly what the requirements are from your local parks and recreation department.

Career paths for lifeguards

Most people who work guarding lives don't do it for the outrageous career growth prospects. Lifeguarding is a solid summer job, though it can lead to year-round work at an indoor pool. If you're looking to get into a job in parks and recreation, though, this could be your stepping stone. For public pools, a team of lifeguards will typically be supervised by a manager who then reports to an official within the parks and recreation department. At private pools or clubs, lifeguards report to a direct supervisor or manager.

The future of lifeguard jobs

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics), job opportunities for recreational workers are set to grow faster than normal. Even though people will be spending more on recreation, budget restrictions may keep state and local governments from investing in the programs that fund public pools.

See all job descriptions