Life Guard Certification and Training Requirements

Sep 18, 2019

Life guard certification is a required credential for people wishing to serve as life guards. Get some quick facts about the training and other requirements necessary to qualify for life guard certification.

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To enter a training program and earn a lifeguard certification, you'll need to first make sure you are a strong swimmer. Obtaining certification as a lifeguard involves proving a variety of abilities and skills, most of all your ability to swim, lift, and then apply life saving techniques to potential victims. Certification is available in every state through programs provided by the American Red Cross or certified private teachers.

Essential Information

A lifeguard protects swimmers at swimming pools, water parks and beaches. Lifeguards are strong swimmers who are trained in water rescue, using a variety of equipment to perform their jobs. Lifeguards typically receive their training and certification from the American Red Cross. There are three different levels of certification, all of which are valid for three years.

Required Training Lifeguard training course
Required Skills Swimming proficiency, CPR, first aid
Specialization Options Waterfront, waterpark
Job Outlook (2018-2028) 7%* (for all lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers)
Median Wage (2018) $10.77 per hour* (for lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Training Requirements for Lifeguard Certification

Training as a lifeguard calls for a lot of strenuous activity. Those wishing to take training should check with their primary care physicians to determine if there is a medical condition that might prevent full participation in training activities.

A lifeguard must be trained to perform several life-saving techniques. These include water rescue, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), automated external defibrillators (AED), first aid and oxygen administration.

The American Red Cross ( provides training in each state for aspiring lifeguards. To enter the course, each candidate has to demonstrate specific skills. He or she must be able to swim continuously for 300 yards using a variety of strokes. Students must dive to a depth of ten feet (after having swum 20 yards), pick up a 10-pound object, and return to the starting point in a specified minimum length of time. Rescue skills, such as how to rescue both active and passive drowning victims, are covered in the training. Training last 30-37 hours depending on the level of lifeguard certification attained.

Training in dealing with head, back and neck injuries is provided. Students are taught stabilization techniques, including how to use a backboard to transport a victim to dry land and how to stop external bleeding. First aid, CPR and AED procedures are all covered. Students have the opportunity to practice multiple victim rescues in a variety of situations. At the training's conclusion, candidates are tested in a variety of simulated scenarios and must demonstrate proper procedures.

Certification Information

Successful completion of the American Red Cross training program culminates in one of three certificates depending on training. The Lifeguarding certification is for those who work at traditional pools. Waterfront Lifeguarding certification qualifies individuals to work at traditional pools and waterfront locations. Finally, the Waterpark Lifeguarding designation allows individuals to work at waterpark environments in additional to regular pools. All three certifications are valid for three years. In addition to the lifeguard certifications, graduates of this training will also hold the CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer designation which is valid for one year.

Lifeguard certification courses focus on water-related injuries and life risks. Aspiring lifeguards are trained at water rescue, breathing and heart resuscitation techniques, and in the kinds of injuries that can be sustained by swimmers in different settings. Certification is based on the setting where a lifeguard will work and is valid for three years before a renewal course and exam must be taken.

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