How to Become a Certified Lifeguard (Salary, Steps, FAQs)

Lifeguards are crucial in rescuing swimmers in danger and providing CPR and first aid to save lives.

Before becoming lifeguards, individuals undergo intensive training and evaluations to confirm their competence for effective duty.

Understanding the steps to achieve a lifeguard certification can aid in enabling you to decide if this career is suitable for you.

This article delves into lifeguard certification, its significance, and the process of becoming a certified lifeguard.

What is a Lifeguard Certification?

Lifeguard certification is an official recognition granted to individuals who demonstrate lifeguarding skills.

Certification training involves practicing accident prevention techniques, identifying potential hazards, detecting imminent threats, and enforcing safety protocols.

This training equips candidates with knowledge of quality medical care. Lifeguard certification is a crucial prerequisite for securing lifeguard positions across many countries.

Is Lifeguard a Good Career?

Yes, it is. Lifeguard is a promising career. If you are searching for a job that will leave you with so much personal satisfaction, look no further than this one.

This is because, as a lifeguard, you can save people’s lives consistently. Furthermore, you will have fun every day because no two days on the job bring the same experience.

Lifeguard is a job that offers you the opportunity to meet with families and individuals from different cultural and social backgrounds.

This profession will also empower you with useful skills in other career paths. 

What is the Average Salary of a Lifeguard?

The average salary of a lifeguard in the United States can vary widely depending on factors such as location, type of employer, experience, and certifications.

While entry-level lifeguards may earn around $9 to $15 per hour, experienced lifeguards working in high-demand areas or for prestigious employers can earn an hourly wage ranging from $15 to $25 or more per hour.

However, lifeguards with additional certifications, such as Water Safety Instructor (WSI), Lifeguard Instructor, or specialized waterfront or pool management training, may command higher salaries due to their expanded skill set.

Steps for Becoming a Certified Lifeguard 

You can become a certified lifeguard by following the steps below: 

1. Look for a certification that aligns with your goals: 

Before applying, pick a certification that aligns with your professional goals.

While some certifications empower you with the foundational knowledge you need to work as a lifeguard, only a few can advance your skills.

When choosing a certification, consider your schedule and pick a learning plan that suits you. No matter your option, you will still somehow engage in physical training. 

2. Look for any association that offers local sessions:

Search for local associations where you can acquire special training needed to work as a lifeguard without breaking the bank.

YMCA and the American Red Cross are examples of associations providing free lifeguard training.

Completing a local training course on lifeguard from any of such organizations will help you get a satisfying job.

You will also connect with seasoned professionals and build a good network. 

3. Satisfy the requirements for the pre-course skills assessment: 

You must complete a pre-course skill test to sign up for several lifeguard training programs. It aims to evaluate your strength, stamina, and skills.

The test will also help the instructors know if you possess the techniques needed to survive underwater for a while.

Make enough time to engage in personal practice to do well on this test. When training, start by setting a minimum limit, let’s say 50 yards first, and keep adjusting it as you do better. 

4. Complete a Lifeguard Program: 

Once you pass the lifeguard test, register for and complete a lifeguard program.

Throughout this program, you will learn to perform your tasks effectively as a lifeguard and overcome challenges.

You will also receive training on rendering first aid, CPR, and AED treatments.

Furthermore, you will develop the ability to resolve heart and lung challenges before victims are rushed to a nearby hospital. 

5. Take the qualifying exam:

To become a certified lifeguard, you must pass the qualifying exam. This usually comes up after you complete all classes.

No matter the body offering the lifeguard program, the exam always comes in two parts; theory and practical.

Only those who achieve more than 80% on the theoretical test and do very well on the practical test are certified as lifeguards. 

How Long Does it Take to Become a Certified Lifeguard in the United States?

No fixed timeframe is lawfully required to complete the training and education needed to become a certified lifeguard.

Nevertheless, it is understood that the average timeframe needed to become a lifeguard in the US is around 30 hours. This time is enough to complete both aspects of the training. 

Essential Skills that Every Lifeguard must have

Here are some essential skills that every lifeguard must have:

1. Strong Swimming Abilities:

Lifeguards must be excellent swimmers themselves. They should have the stamina, strength, and technique to respond swiftly and effectively in water emergencies.

2. Rescue Techniques:

Lifeguards must be trained in various water rescue techniques, including various rescues (active, passive, submerged) and rescue equipment such as buoyancy aids and rescue tubes.

3. First Aid and CPR:

Proficiency in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is crucial.

Lifeguards must respond promptly and effectively to medical emergencies until medical professionals arrive.

4. AED Operation:

Lifeguards should be trained in using automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which can be essential in cases of cardiac arrest.

6. Communication Skills:

Effective communication is vital for lifeguards to relay instructions, give directions, and reassure distressed individuals.

Clear and concise communication helps prevent panic and ensures the proper execution of rescue efforts.

7. Observation and Vigilance:

Lifeguards must maintain constant vigilance over the water and the surrounding area. Identifying potential hazards, risky behaviors, and signs of distress is vital for preventing accidents.

8. Situational Awareness:

Awareness of the environment, weather conditions, water currents, and pool dynamics helps lifeguards anticipate and respond to potential dangers.

9. Teamwork:

Lifeguards often work as part of a team. Effective teamwork involves clear communication, coordination, and mutual support to cover all aquatic facility areas.

10. Decision-Making Skills:

In emergencies, lifeguards must make quick, well-informed decisions. Being able to assess the situation, prioritize actions, and adapt to changing circumstances is critical.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on How to Become a Certified Lifeguard

How much time is needed to complete a lifeguard course in the UK?

The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification Course in the United Kingdom typically requires an average of 36 hours for completion.

What is the typical wage for lifeguards in the United Kingdom?

Lifeguards in the United Kingdom earn an average salary of £12 per hour.

What certification is obligatory for lifeguard employment in the UK?

To work as a lifeguard in the UK, individuals must possess the National Vocational Beach Lifeguard Qualification (NVBLQ).

In which location do lifeguards earn the highest income?

Lifeguards stationed along the sunlit shores of the California Coast earn a higher income than their counterparts in any other part of the world.


Becoming a lifeguard involves training, certification, and practical experience. This post has done well to provide the steps for embarking on this career.

However, if you are interested in this career, remember that lifeguarding is a responsibility that requires continuous learning and readiness to respond in high-pressure situations.

Thus, stay current with your certifications, remain vigilant on the job, and prioritize the safety of all individuals in aquatic environments.

Awesome one; I hope this article answers your question.

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Abasiofon Fidelis
Abasiofon Fidelis

Abasiofon Fidelis is a professional writer who loves to write about college life and college applications. He has been writing articles for over 3 years. He is the Content Manager at School and Travel.

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