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When you hear the term “lifeguard,” you may picture either not-so-mature high school kids at your local pool or beach-goers from “Beach Watch.” However, the reality of a lifeguard job is often quite different from its popular reputation. If you are willing to consider working at a pool, lifeguard positions can be an excellent second job for adults seeking to supplement their income. In fact, a lifeguard job can lead to a fulfilling full-time career if you are open to the opportunities it presents.

The primary function of a lifeguard is, of course, to protect lives. Through their lifeguard training, they develop the ability to effectively scan bodies of water and their surrounding areas in order to prevent and respond to emergencies. They are trained in CPR for professional rescuers and first aid practices, and are taught to anticipate potential problems before they arise.

It is essential to note that lifeguards should not be assigned any duties other than closely monitoring the swimmers. Many local and state codes now explicitly state this requirement due to safety concerns that, in the past, lifeguards may have been given other tasks that distracted them from their primary responsibility of ensuring swimmer safety.

Why to Get Certified With American Lifeguard Association

  • Nationally-recognized organization
  • Training for individuals or small groups
  • Get certified right away!
  • Lowest price guaranteed
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Certification training at your own pace
  • Videos and online training materials
  • Get paid for your referrals
  • Offer swimming lessons through ALA endorsed swim program
  • Discounts given to employers for staff training [Contact us for details]
  • A certification issued the day you complete the program
  • Certification listed on national verification website same day of completion

How to Become a Certified Lifeguard

To become a certified lifeguard, you will need to undergo lifeguard training and successfully pass a series of tests. Upon successfully passing these tests, you will be awarded a lifeguard certification by the American Lifeguard Association. This certification will enable you to work in a variety of lifeguard positions.

It is important to note that to become a lifeguard, you must be at least 15 years old, as per the standard regulations. It is also crucial to maintain and update your certification by attending in-service lifeguard training and recertification courses to keep your skills up-to-date. This will ensure that you are always prepared to handle any situation that may arise while on duty.

Becoming a certified lifeguard is a challenging but rewarding process that offers a fulfilling career path for those passionate about ensuring the safety of others.

Overall, becoming a lifeguard requires a combination of physical ability, essential knowledge, and crucial soft skills. By meeting these prerequisites and completing the necessary training and testing, you can earn a lifeguard certification and be entrusted with the critical responsibility of keeping swimmers safe.

American Lifeguard Training Prerequisites

To take the American Lifeguard Training course students must meet the following requirements:

  • Able to swim 300 yards consecutively
  • 100 yards front crawl
  • 100 yards breast stroke
  • 100 yards choice between front crawl or breast stroke
  • Perform the diving brick test within 1 minute 40 seconds
  • Swim 20 yards
  • Surface dive to a depth of 7-10 feet
  • Retrieve the 10 lbs diving brick and swim back to the starting point
  • Exit the water without using a ladder or steps


  • Slide-In Entry
  • Stride and Compact Jumps
  • Rescue Approach—Front Crawl or Breaststroke
  • Simple Assist
  • Extension Assist from the Deck
  • Reaching Assist with Equipment and
  • Throwing Assist
  • Swimming Extension Rescue
  • Active and Passive Drowning Victim Rear Rescue
  • Two-Person Removal from the Water
  • Using a Backboard
  • Passive Submerged Victim—Shallow Water
  • Multiple-Victim Rescue
  • Feet-First Surface Dive
  • Submerged Victim—Shallow Water
  • Front and Rear Head-Hold Escape


  • Manual In-Line Stabilization for a Head, Neck or Back Injury on Land—Lying
  • Down, Sitting, or Standing
  • Using a Backboard for a Standing Victim on Land
  • Head Splint Technique—Face-Up Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head Splint Technique—Face-Dow Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head and Chin Support—Face-Up Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head and Chin Support—Face-Down Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head Splint Technique—Face-Up Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head Splint Technique—Face-Down Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Head and Chin Support—Face-Up Victim, Shallow Water at or Near Surface
  • Stabilization for a Submerged Victim—Face-Up, Face-Down or on One Side
  • Using a Backboard in Shallow


  • Removing Gloves
  • Initial Assessment
  • Rescue Breathing—Adult, Child, and Infant
  • Using a Bag-Valve-Mask Resuscitator—Two Rescuers
  • Conscious Choking—Adult, Child, and Infant
  • Unconscious Choking—Adult, Child, and Infant
  • CPR—Adult, Child, and Infant
  • Two-Rescuer CPR—Adult, Child, and Infant
  • Using an AED—Adult, and Child


  • Secondary Assessment
  • Controlling External Bleeding
  • Applying a Sling and Binder
  • Applying an Anatomic Splint
  • Applying a Soft Splint


  • Final Skill Scenario 1—Active Drowning Victim
  • Final Skill Scenario 2—Submerged Passive Drowning Victim
  • Final Skill Scenario 3—Head, Neck, or Back Injury.

First Time Lifeguard training Provides entry-level participants the knowledge and skills to prevent recognize and respond to aquatic emergencies and to provide care for breathing and cardiac emergency injuries and sudden illnesses until EMS personnel take over.

The ability to swim is one of the most important prerequisites for obtaining a lifeguard certification. You must be able to swim breaststroke and freestyle and have the stamina to swim long distances.

In addition to proficiency in swimming, you will also need to demonstrate strong emergency medical skills. For this test, you will receive training in standard first aid, and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and will be taught how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

You will also be given a written exam. This test will verify your proficiency in a variety of lifeguard related rules. A score of 80 percent or higher is required on the written exam.

The American Lifeguard certification, CPR/AED, and First Aid Certification are valid for two years.

Employee Orientation

An orientation session about facility operations and responsibilities helps lifeguards understand the facility, their responsibilities, and management’s expectations. The orientation is critical for learning what is unique about your workplace. Ask your employer questions about your facility and become completely familiar with your facility’s operations.

The employer ensures that each Lifeguard candidate has all the skills and knowledge necessary for the position they are being considered. The employer also needs to make sure the candidate meets the physical and all other elements before starting employment. The employer to evaluate your current skill level. Your employer may have you participate in rescue scenarios to ensure that you understand your team’s responsibilities and are familiar with your facility’s layout and equipment.

Continue with in-service training with your employer.

Earning a lifeguarding certification means you have completed a training course on a given date. It does not mean that you have learned everything there is to know about lifeguarding. Once hired as a lifeguard, you should expect that you will be required to continue your training.

Need help paying for courses?

The American Lifeguard Association has been approved for the Capital One Affiliate Program! for Tuition Assistance Loan

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