Jobs Involving Water Sports

Jan 19, 2020

A variety of different water sports offer unique career options for interested job seekers. We discuss some of the available careers, as well as their median salaries, expected job growth rates and education requirements.

Career Options Involving Water Sports

Several careers are available that directly or indirectly involve water sports. These jobs may require participation in sports or pertain to training or officiating in activities like swimming, water polo, surfing and more. Learn about a handful of career options that involve water sports.

Job Title Median Salary (2018)* Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Lifeguards $22,410 (Lifeguards, Including Ski Patrol and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers) 7% (Lifeguards, Including Ski Patrol and Other Recreational Protective Service Workers)
Recreational Therapists $47,860 7%
Athletes and Sports Competitors $50,650 6%
Referees and Other Sports Officials $27,020 (Umpires, Referees and Other Sports Officials) 6% (Umpires, Referees and Other Sports Officials)
Coaches and Scouts $33,780 11%
Animal Trainers $23,950 16%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Information for Jobs Involving Water Sports


Lifeguards monitor pools and bodies of water to help protect people participating in water sports. They may assist people who are swimming, diving, surfing or performing other activities in the water who become fatigued or injured to prevent them from drowning. They are trained in first aid and will administer CPR if needed until emergency help arrives. Lifeguards undergo on-the-job training and do not need a formal education.

Recreational Therapists

Recreational therapists use a variety of activities, including water sports, to help disabled, injured or ill patients improve their emotional, physical and social well-being. Swimming and aquatics are good activities for these therapists to use to help their patients use different parts of their bodies and help the patient reach his or her personal goals. These therapists carefully track progress and adjust activities as needed and according to the interests of their patients. These professionals need a bachelor's degree and certification from the National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification (NCTRC).

Athletes and Sports Competitors

Some athletes and sports competitors participate in water sports and competitions, like swimming, water polo, surfing, diving, sailing, wakeboarding and more. These competitors spend an ample amount of time training and perfecting their skills for competition. During competitions they must obey rules and regulations of their sport and typically evaluate their performance after the competition to find areas for improvement. Athletes and sports competitors do not need a formal education, but must fully understand their sport and usually spend years participating in the sport.

Referees and Other Sports Officials

Some referees and sports officials officiate water sports to ensure that participants are safe and obey the rules of the sport. They may also be required to keep time, inspect sporting equipment, stop play as needed and settle complaints. At times in certain sports they may need to assess penalties and/or declare a winner. Referees and sports officials usually have a high school diploma and must have an excellent understanding of the sport they work with, but specific education requirements vary according to the sport and state.

Coaches and Scouts

Similar to athletes and sports officials, some coaches and scouts may work with athletes from some of the above mentioned water sports. Coaches are responsible for helping train the athletes through practices and physical conditioning, as well as tracking the athlete's performances to provide feedback and motivation. Scouts may not be as heavily involved in water sports as other sports, but their primary responsibility is to observe athletes and offer incentives to the athletes in exchange for committing to the team or organization the scout represents. Coaches and scouts must understand the sport they work with and usually have a bachelor's degree.

Animal Trainers

Some animal trainers specialize in training dogs to participate in water sports or work with marine mammals for performances, which may not be considered a water sport, but are entertaining nonetheless. These trainers work with their animals to teach them to perform a particular action in response to a hand or voice command. Typically, the animal is rewarded with praise and/or some kind of treat when the action is performed correctly. Many animal trainers only need a high school diploma, but some positions may need a bachelor's degree.

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