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With the opportunity to become professionally trained and certified starting at age 15, lifeguarding is one of the most beneficial jobs a teenager can have. Lifeguards are entrusted with the safety of countless swimmers year after year. The necessity to pay close attention to detail proves to garner an increased amount of responsibility and maturity in those fortunate enough to become certified.
Finding a Lifeguard Training Course
Plenty of places in the community are available for teens and adults alike to become lifeguard certified. Local swim clubs, YMCAs and schools commonly offer courses throughout the year. You can look up your local Red Cross chapter, YMCA or City Hall to get specific information about dates and locations to be trained and how to be registered.
Two examples of organizations that offer lifeguard training are the American Red Cross and the American Lifeguard Association (ALA). Both of their websites (redcross.org and americanlifeguard.com) offer information about local pools offering certification as well as forms you can fill out to be registered for a course. The websites will also have information about the cost of the course, which can range from $200 to $300. However, you will most likely have the cost paid off after just 30 hours of lifeguarding.
Requirements to Pass
The specific requirements to become lifeguard certified vary from organization to organization, but the essentials will remain the same. Along with your lifeguard certification, you will also need to be trained in first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AEDs). Typically, your lifeguard and first aid training will last you three years before you need to be recertified; however you will need to be recertified in CPR/AED every year.
You can also expect to swim approximately 500 yards as well as perform mock rescues with other class participants, which will help you develop the proper techniques essential to saving a life. You will be expected to fully understand a training book. You'll need to pass short multiple-choice tests about lessons from the book and videos you watch. It is important that you take the course very seriously; you'll need to pay attention and work hard to pass.
Don't Forget to be Recertified
The initial lifeguard training courses range from a month to "crash courses" that can be done in a week, however the recertification courses require just a day or a few short classes just you keep you refreshed and up to date with the latest safety protocols.
The same standard rules should apply for finding a place to become recertified. You can contact your local Red Cross chapter or ALA for available courses, which will be much cheaper than the original training course. You will probably even find that the same place you received your initial training will be able to recertify you.
Finding a Lifeguarding Job
Once you have been lifeguard certified it is time to get out there and showcase your new talents that could be called on to save a life. You will be issued a card that will maintain that you are certified in lifeguard training, first aid, CPR and AEDs, which will let potential employers know that you are a well educated and trained lifeguard.
Contact local pools, water parks, beaches, camps and anywhere else you can think lifeguards would be needed. Submit your cards and prepare for a new, enriching job full of responsibility and sunshine.
What to Expect
Although it may seem like a glamorous summer job, remember that lifeguarding is a huge responsibility. You must make sure you understand the protocols, procedures and techniques you learned in your training, as well as understand and enforce the rules specific to your place of employment. It is just as important to always "be on your toes" and ready for anything as it is to make sure everyone is having a great day by the water, including yourself!
Greg Cavanaugh has been writing professionally since 2009. He graduated from Saint Joseph's College of Maine, earning a Bachelor of Arts in communications and journalism. Cavanaugh has contributed to NESN, the AHL, the Portland Sea Dogs and the Portland Pirates, among other organizations.