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How to Kickstart Your Career as Lifeguard

Lifeguarding is a fulfilling and worthwhile job for anyone passionate about swimming, water safety, and helping others. 

If you're considering becoming a lifeguard, you probably already know about the many great benefits of the job. 

Not only does it provide you with a sense of purpose and the opportunity to help others, but it also offers valuable skills and practical experience that you may not find in other professions. 

Lifeguards are highly trained in life saving procedures such as CPR, first aid, and water safety/rescue techniques. These are all skills that are relevant not just around bodies of water like lakes and oceans, but anywhere you go. 

And with many news outlets now citing concerns about the continuation of the nationwide lifeguard shortage, now is an excellent time to tap into the industry.

So if you've ever wanted to pursue a career as an aquatic lifeguard, but aren't sure where to start, then you've come to the right place. In this post, we'll provide a step-by-step guide to help you embark on your journey towards becoming a lifeguard, with tips and tricks from real lifeguards and watermen.

By completing these five steps, you'll acquire the knowledge, skills, and experience that you need to get started in this rewarding, exciting, and challenging career. 

Step 1: Get your lifeguard certification

To become an aquatic lifeguard anywhere in the United States, the proper certifications are a must. 

You will first need to pass a lifeguard training course offered by a reputable first responder organization such as the American Red Cross or the YMCA. 

The specific price and duration of the certificate training depends on the organization you train with, and you should always confirm that the course you're taking meets industry requirements.

Lifeguard training involves a mix of classroom-style lessons, hands-on active training, and final assessments. 

The course will teach you about things like water safety skills, rescue techniques, and beach lifeguard flags, among other topics.

Once you pass the course, you will receive an official certification that validates you as a professional lifeguard. 

Step 2: Hone your swimming skills 

As a lifeguard, your primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of whoever you are guarding, whether it's swimmers in a pool, surfers at the beach, or boaters at a lake. So having excellent swimming skills is non-negotiable!

Most people know how to perform basic swimming techniques such as treading water, floating, and diving. But as a career lifeguard, your knowledge of swimming should advance beyond the basics, incorporating different swim strokes and higher-level techniques.

You should also be able to swim competently in different conditions, such as in rough or choppy waters, ocean riptides, strong currents, or very deep water. 

So it's a good idea to practice swimming in your lifeguard uniform as much as you can to help build and maintain your swimming stamina and speed. 

Step 3: Gain lifeguarding experience 

Experience is a valuable asset when it comes to lifeguarding as a career. 

Most major lifeguard and first responder agencies will look for applicants who have experience working in beach or pool settings, are familiar with various rescue techniques and have strong first aid knowledge.

After you have your lifeguard certification, consider volunteering in a junior lifeguard program, working as a swim instructor, or taking on a lifeguarding internship. These roles will help you gain useful lifeguarding experience before you apply for a permanent lifeguard position. 

You can also find openings for entry-level lifeguard positions at places like local public swimming pools, recreation centers, and swim schools, to help widen your breadth of experience.

Step 4: Build your professional network 

Networking can be a crucial component for any lifeguard or first responder looking to make a splash in the industry. 

By networking, you'll cast a wider net of opportunities for yourself and make sincere connections that can turn into beneficial professional relationships. 

The beauty of networking in the field of lifeguarding is that everyone is passionate about swim safety and protecting those in the water. So not only can you learn directly from experienced lifeguards, but you can also stay up to date on the latest technology, tips, news, and job opportunities.

Some ways you can easily network as a lifeguard are:

  • Meet with other lifeguards at water safety events
  • Chat with recruiters on social media platforms
  • Attend local or national lifeguard conferences
  • Join a reputable lifeguard organization
  • Create a professional LinkedIn page for yourself

So next time you're at a swim meet or lifeguard certification class, be sure to strike up a conversation and exchange contact information. You never know where your next career opportunity or valuable piece of advice may come from!

Step 5: Apply for jobs and keep learning 

Once you're certified and have a solid foundation of experience, it's time to apply for your dream lifeguarding job! 

Make sure you have a concise, well-written resume that emphasizes your lifeguard training, experience, and achievements. 

You can also help yourself stand out among the list of candidates by staying up-to-date with the latest industry news. Reading lifeguarding publications, attending training seminars and first aid workshops, and taking continuing lifeguard education courses are all things that can help give you an edge.

By actively continuing your learning, you can help get yourself one step closer to your perfect lifeguarding job.

And once your dream gig is secured, be sure to come back and sign up for our First Responder Program for a major discount on your agency-approved lifeguard uniforms as a thank-you from the Maui Rippers family to you.



Congratulations! After reading this post about how to become a lifeguard, you are well on your way to starting your lifeguard career.

Becoming an ocean or pool lifeguard requires continuous hard work, dedication, and commitment. But ask any seasoned lifeguard and they'll tell you that the payoff is well worth the effort.

So if you're ready to make a positive impact on people's lives while also doing a job that you love, get out there and show the world what you can do as a lifeguard!


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