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Lifeguard Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: September 27, 2023

A Lifeguard, or Lifesaver, is responsible for surveying a body of water and conducting rescues to help weak or injured swimmers get to safety. Their duties include speaking with swimmers to enforce swimming rules keeping track of each swimmer in the water and administering first aid to injured swimmers.

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Lifeguard duties and responsibilities

Lifeguards are responsible for many duties during a typical shift. A job description for a Lifeguard may contain the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Opening and closing the pool each day according to scheduled hours
  • Regularly treat the pool with the correct amount of chemicals
  • Closely monitoring activities related to the pool area, identifying any safety issues throughout shift
  • Directing swimmers out of water in dangerous conditions
  • Closely monitoring weather reports to make sure guests remain safe
  • Organizing and overseeing pool parties
  • Providing swim lessons and coaching swim team when applicable
  • Maintaining a clean pool environment
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Lifeguard Job Description Examples

What does a Lifeguard do?

Lifeguards can work at a variety of locations, including recreational swimming pools, water parks, beaches and lakes. They work with other Lifeguards to ensure the safety of swimmers, perform rescues, and in certain situations, perform lifesaving first aid. Their job is to ensure that guests have a fun and safe environment in which to swim and lounge about with family and friends. They may also be responsible for cleaning the area and checking water quality. This is especially important for Pool Lifeguards.

Lifeguard skills and qualifications

Lifeguards may have a wide range of skills. A job description for a Lifeguard may contain the following skills and qualifications:

  • Current ARC certification
  • CPR and First Aid certifications
  • Successful completion of a pre-employment in-water practical skills test
  • Experience coaching swim teams and teaching swimming lessons
  • Two or more years of lifeguard experience

Lifeguard salary expectations  

The average salary for a Lifeguard is $11.80 per hour. This information is based on 8,029 anonymously submitted salaries to Indeed from employees and users along with past and present Lifeguard job postings on Indeed within the last 36 months.

Lifeguard education and training requirements

While a Lifeguard position doesn’t typically require a high school diploma or GED, there are usually several certifications that are required including ARC, First Aid and CPR. Many employers also require Lifeguards to pass certification tests that include both a written exam and physical challenges to make sure a candidate is able to perform the necessary job duties.

Lifeguard experience requirements

While a summer job that can sometimes lead to year-round employment at indoor pools, most Lifeguards don’t do it for significant career growth prospects. For individuals looking to obtain employment in parks and recreation, a position as a Lifeguard can be an excellent way to work within that system.

Public pools generally have a team of Lifeguards supervised by a Manager who reports to executives within the parks and recreation department. At private clubs or pools, Lifeguards report directly to a Manager or supervisor. Experience as a Lifeguard can lead to supervisory or management positions.

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If a Lifeguard position isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, consider these similar positions:

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Frequently asked questions about Lifeguards

What are the different types of Lifeguards?

Because there are several different work environments Lifeguards can work in, their skills and responsibilities vary. Here are some examples of different types of Lifeguards and responsibilities for each:

  • Pool Lifeguard: This type of Lifeguard works for indoor or outdoor pool facilities. They are responsible for cleaning the bathrooms, checking guests in and out, enforcing pool rules and rotating between Lifeguard chairs to watch over swimmers and perform rescues if need be. They also check the pH levels and adjust chlorine levels to maintain a hygienic swimming environment.
  • Water Park Lifeguard: These Lifeguards work at water parks to ensure the safety of guests. They usually work at a particular ride or attraction. For example, some Water Park Lifeguards watch over guests in the wave pool. In contrast, others work at water slide attractions, instructing ride-goers on the appropriate stance or waiting at the bottom to ensure ride-goers emerge uninjured.
  • Beach Lifeguard: This type of Lifeguard works at beaches to watch over ocean swimmers. They look for potential rip currents and move flags accordingly to instruct swimmers to stay away from a particular area. They also conduct ocean rescues for weak swimmers or those stuck in rip currents.
  • Lake Lifeguard: These Lifeguards work at lakes that allow swimming. They make sure that swimmers stay within the buoys and rescue swimmers if necessary. Some lakes offer limited visibility below the water’s surface, so Lake Lifeguards need to be extra vigilant of who goes in and out of the water.

What are the daily duties of a Lifeguard?

On a typical day, a Lifeguard starts by arriving at their work location and setting up equipment. At beaches or lakes, this might mean pulling Lifeguard chairs to the right spots and setting up umbrellas or swimming signs. For Lifeguards working at pools or water parks, this might entail setting out chairs and tables for pool guests, setting up Lifeguard umbrellas and checking pH levels.

Throughout the day, Lifeguards rotate between stations and survey the water to ensure the safety of swimmers. They also get small breaks to eat meals and get out of the sun. They may also have to clean up spilled beverages, food items, glass or bodily fluids to maintain a safe and hygienic environment.

What qualities make a good Lifeguard?

A good Lifeguard is physically fit and an excellent swimmer. They act calm under pressure to administer aid to those in distress. They also understand the importance of hydration to stay alert and energized during their shift. Further, a good Lifeguard has great attention to detail, which enables them to survey a group of swimmers and isolate swimmers in need of assistance.

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