Degree Programs for Aspiring Lifeguards

Many educational institutions have certificate programs for lifeguard training. For more in-depth training, students can pursue an associate's or bachelor's degree in physical and sports education with relevant courses related to lifeguarding.

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Essential Information

The majority of schools with lifeguard training certification options tailor their programs to comply with American Red Cross training standards. Some of these institutions offer online courses.

Physical education associate's degree programs can provide coursework in water safety instruction, rescue training and CPR, among other educational offerings. These programs require a high school diploma or its equivalent for entrance, and teach the fundamentals of sports safety and physical training.

Bachelor's programs in physical education often require instruction in lifeguard skills and water safety as part of the general program and sometimes require an internship. Some bachelor's programs offer specializations in outdoor sports such as swimming, which may be of interest to aspiring lifeguards. Majoring or minoring in aquatics is another option in some bachelor's degree programs.


Associate's Degree in Physical Education

Some associate's programs include lifeguard training as part of the program, while others feature it as an elective. Students in associate's degree programs explore a variety of other topics in physical education as well as general education courses like English and math.

In addition to major coursework in nutrition, exercise and health, classes may include:

  • Physical education
  • Athletic injury prevention
  • Swimming
  • Water safety instruction
  • Lifeguard training

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Bachelor's Degree in Physical Education

These programs are often tailored to aspiring physical education teachers, fitness instructors and athletic trainers. Students learn basic instruction in a variety of sports and physical activities and the foundations of exercise that will prepare them to teach or coach. Bachelor's programs also include an internship typically focused on teaching physical education.

Common courses ii the bachelor's program include the following:

  • Basics in physical fitness
  • Advanced swimming
  • Lifeguarding
  • Water safety instruction
  • Human movement
  • Basic nutrition

Popular Career Options

Those who earn a bachelor's degree in physical education can seek licensure and certification as a teacher. Other possible career paths include:

  • Water safety instructor
  • Aerobics instructor
  • Health and fitness coordinator
  • Umpire or coach
  • Early childhood motor skills instructor

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for lifeguards, ski patrollers and other recreational protective service workers is expected to increase seven percent from 2014-2024. The average annual salary for these workers in 2015 was $19,500.

Continuing Education and Certification

Certification is usually awarded to those who complete training that meets American Red Cross standards. The Red Cross has a list of training providers on its website. The United States Lifesaving Association certifies agencies that employ lifeguards to ensure employers promote proper training standards.

Individuals exploring teaching options must meet state licensing standards for public educators. The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards offers a certification program that is recognized by most states, according to the BLS.

Successful completion of a bachelor's physical education program could lead to progressive study in a master's degree program.

Lifeguard prospects have a few higher education options, including certification programs, and associate's or bachelor programs for physical education.

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