Job description

Lifeguards monitor and supervise patrons of beaches, public swimming pools, water parks, and spa and recreational centers. They enforce safety rules and are trained to identify and prevent dangerous situations, and spot and rescue distressed swimmers.


    • Monitor patrons and the overall environment to anticipate risks and respond to emergencies
    • Offer general information on pool operations to visitors
    • Provide swimming lessons to people who request assistance
    • Keep equipment, like backboards and rescue tubes, available and safe
    • Open or close the premises each day, depending on the lifeguard’s shift
    • Administer first aid in the event of an accident
    • Inform swimmers of any unsafe practices or safety hazards
    • Maintain order in the swimming area or the overall premises to prevent injuries
    • Facilitate the cleanliness and overall maintenance of the swimming area
    • Use water testing kits and record findings to determine chlorine and pH levels
    • Complete necessary paperwork
    • Abide by an emergency action plan and make sure everyone follows it

Skills and qualities

Physical stamina

Job outlook

Projected growth
The projected growth rate of employment in the US from 2016 to 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme. The national average growth rate for all professions is 7%.


New jobs
The number of jobs projected to become available in the US between 2016 and 2026, based on data collected through the BLS Employment Projections (EP) programme.


Automation risk
The probability of computerisation, based on data published in ‘The Future of Employment’, a 2013 working paper by Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne.


Career progression

With experience, you can move into fitness coaching, swimming teaching or sports health roles. You could also train and lead a team of lifeguards. Enrolling in management, health or sports courses, meanwhile, can be beneficial as you progress in your career.

Working conditions

Average hours

37h/ week

Typical schedule

Shift Work

On a rota

Most lifeguards work outdoors – the exception being recreational centers, spas and indoor public swimming areas – and in all weather conditions, from hot to mild, from scattered showers to heavy winds. Lifeguards are on shift work and they can carry out their duties and responsibilities on early mornings, evenings, weekends and peak seasons (spring break, summer and Christmas).


Bottom 10%




Top 10%


Annual salary estimates are based on percentile wage data collected through the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey of US workers.

Qualifications and training

Education level


Lifeguard certification training

Study time


Although no formal education is required to become a lifeguard, a college degree in a related field can prove to be a distinct advantage. You will, however, need to complete lifeguard certification training from the American Red Cross or the American Lifeguard Association, which generally consists of training in first aid, CPR/AED and basic protocol.

Last Updated: Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Perfect career wave

Search for jobs

Find lifeguard vacancies near you