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How to Become a Crossing Guard

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Crossing guards are stationed at busy intersections to help people cross streets safely. Most school districts employ a crossing guard for at least one intersection, and they often need several if there are multiple routes to the school. Working hours are short, making a job as a crossing guard ideal for working mothers and retirees.

Job Description

School crossing guards ensure the safety of children who walk or bike to and from school. They encourage safe behaviors, such as looking both ways before crossing a street and waiting for traffic signals. Crossing guards wait for gaps in traffic to allow people to cross, or they stop traffic with hand signals and stop paddles to create safe gaps. Crossing guards are the first persons into the street and the last persons out, helping to ensure the safety of all those who cross.

Crossing guards must be vigilant at all times while on the job. Distractions, including conversations with others, increase the potential that someone could get hurt.

Crossing guards do not have any legal authority, but they are responsible for reporting unsafe conditions to the school, which may deem follow-up with local police as the required course of action. Crossing guards are generally on the lookout for the following:

  • Unsafe drivers, including speeding through a school zone
  • Unsafe pedestrian behaviors
  • Unlawful parking
  • Construction interference
  • Damaged signs
  • Poor visibility
  • Suspicious behavior
  • Improper use or lack of safety items such as seat belts and bicycle helmets

Education Requirements

Formal education is not as important to the job as are demonstrated knowledge and the skills to do the work. Some school districts may prefer to hire candidates with a high school diploma or GED, but it’s not necessarily essential. Previous experience is helpful but usually not required.

Crossing guard job requirements include good communication and interpersonal skills. They must be able to speak English. Additional spoken language skills may be desirable in some areas, depending on population demographics. Crossing guard job requirements also include good vision, hearing and motor skills. They need knowledge of traffic laws. On-the-job training is typically provided. Many states have videos or other training materials developed by state and federal departments of transportation.

Work Environment

School crossing guard hours are generally limited to the times surrounding school openings and closings. Depending on the requirements of their employer, they may work 30 minutes before and after school start and end times, thus working a total of approximately two hours per day. Crossing guards who work along construction routes may work part- or full-time.

Crossing guards work exclusively outdoors, so they are exposed to all types of weather conditions, including snow, rain and extreme temperatures. They may be required to wear a uniform. At a minimum, crossing guards are equipped with safety clothing such as a reflective belt or vest.

Applying for a Job

Look for open positions in the classified section of the local newspaper or on community job boards. Most schools advertise for crossing guards on the district website or on a reliable job board, such as Indeed, Monster, SchoolSpring or JobHero.

Depending on the job, you may fill out a crossing guard application on paper or online. If you’ll be working for a school district, you’ll need to pass a background check.

Salary and Job Outlook

According to 2018 figures released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the average annual wage for full-time crossing guards was $31,970. The average hourly wage for 2018 was $15.37. Remember that school crossing guard hours are often limited to two hours a day, for an average of 10 hours weekly. They don’t get paid when schools are closed for teacher workdays, holidays and summer vacation.

Pay rates are usually tied to geographic location. Hourly wages are highest in Alaska, Washington, Minnesota, California and New York, where costs of living may also be higher. Areas employing the most crossing guards include New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles and Dallas.

Population increases mean more people and more traffic. Employment opportunities for crossing guards will remain steady, and openings for the job are likely to increase in the years ahead.

  • Always follow the procedure for crossing the street, and encourage pedestrians to do the same. This includes stopping at the curb; looking for traffic in all directions; watching out for turning vehicles over your shoulder, especially if you're in the middle of the intersection; then crossing. Use a STOP paddle to signal drivers to stop and to allow schoolchildren to walk the crosswalk safely.
  • A crossing guard must be in good shape since he or she must stand for long periods of time outdoors. You must be able to move in and out of crosswalks quickly. Good hearing, vision, communication and English-speaking skills are also required. A criminal background check may also be necessary to determine whether you qualify to work with others.
  • Most crossing guards are either volunteers or paid school district employees, and they are required to work at their posts for at least three hours a day.

Denise Dayton is a a freelance writer who specializes in business, education and technology. She has written for, Library Journal, The Searcher, Bureau of Education and Research, and corporate clients.

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