Before you embark down the path to become a lifeguard, you must make sure you can meet the qualifications of an effective lifeguard.
There are several ways to become lifeguard certified, one way is to apply for a lifeguard position at a lifeguard agency and receive lifeguard training directly from that organization. Another way to become lifeguard certified is to enroll in a private lifeguard training course.
Becoming lifeguard certified will allow you act as an independent contractor and sell your lifeguard services to private parties. These private lifeguard jobs can either be a one time lifeguard job or a steady employment depending on the needs of your employer.
This is very different than being employed by a regular lifeguard agency, such as the YMCA. In effect, you become your own boss and are responsible for setting up your own lifeguard jobs. For example, an elementary school may need to hire a lifeguard to supervise a school group on a beach field trip. This is the type of job you can expect when you become an independent lifeguard.
Being an independent lifeguard comes with certain advantages and disadvantages.
Unless you have already received lifeguard training from a previous organization, such as YMCA or California State for example, you will have to enroll in a lifeguard training course. These courses are offered by numerous organizations, such as the Red Cross Lifeguard Training Course. You must also be CPR and first aid certified, however this is often included in most lifeguard certification classes. It is mandatory that the lifeguard course you enroll in offers CPR and first aid certification.
You will also be expected to own your personal lifeguarding equipment.
Alternatively, in a regular employed lifeguard position, your lifeguard agency will supply majority of your lifesaving equipment. As an independent lifeguard, you must purchase and maintain all of your equipment. The amount of equipment you must possess will depend on your lifeguarding environment.
If you expect to be hired out for private pool lifeguard job, the typical equipment will include a lifeguard buoy, uniform (red swimsuit, shirt labeled lifeguard), first aid equipment, whistle, and personal gear (hat, sunscreen etc). If you expect to be employed as a private beach lifeguard, you will need more equipment. The typical equipment will include buoy, uniform, first aid equipment, fins, wetsuit (dependent on water temperature), and binoculars.
A major benefit of getting lifeguard certified and becoming an independent lifeguard is that you will often be paid far more than the typical employed lifeguard. The pay will often range from $20-$100 per hour. This is a huge increase from the typical $10-$20 the average pool/beach lifeguard organization will pay. However, unless you can secure a regular private employer, hours are often far less regular than lifeguard agencies.
If your schedule permits, you can simultaneously contract your private lifeguard services while still being regularly employed by a lifeguard organization!