What Are the Different Types of Lifeguard Careers?

Lifeguard accessories may include whistles.
Lifeguards must know how to perform CPR.
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  • Written By: Sheri Cyprus
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2014
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An advanced-level lifesaving certificate from the Red Cross is the minimum requirement for the different types of lifeguard careers. The certificate is earned after passing a water safety course, and annual renewals and course updates are necessary to keep this certification. Having a Red Cross instructor's certificate allows lifeguards to teach swimming lessons. All types of lifeguards must be strong swimmers in excellent health and physically fit. The different kinds of locations for lifeguard careers include public pools, public and private athletic clubs, beaches, schools with pools, community recreation centers, hotels and cruise ships.

Athletic club, school and community center lifeguard careers may require lifeguards to have the Red Cross instructor's certificate to teach swimming lessons as well as provide lifeguard services. In these environments there may be several lifeguards and swim instructors to watch out for client safety as well as teach people to swim. These positions may also involve pool cleaning and maintenance, such as adding chemicals and regularly keeping debris and garbage out of and away from the pool area. Pool lifeguards must uphold rules such as no running on pool decks as people could slip and fall on the hard surface.


Hotel and cruise ship lifeguard careers are hospitality based and suit people with a pleasant, mature personality, since these lifeguards actually live among their customers. A hotel lifeguard could possibly live off-site, but cruise ship lifeguards certainly can't when they're working. However, traveling on a ship with perks such as first-class food may help make up for the lack of total privacy.

Lifeguards who work at public beaches and parks may be hired by a city's park board. These types of lifeguard careers are usually seasonal and lifeguards at beaches and park pools may only be hired for the summer. If beach closures occur for any reason due to a park board decision about public safety, then the hired lifeguard doesn't work or get paid. These may still be good positions for lifeguards who like to be outdoors in warm weather and have other work income or attend school the rest of the year.

Hats, T-shirts and swimsuits or shorts are the standard work wear for all types of lifeguard careers. A lifeguard must be ready to jump in the water at any sign of an emergency. Lifeguard clothing may be marked boldly with the word Lifeguard. Lifeguard chairs are typically very tall and positioned right near the water's edge so lifeguards are close to swimmers and have a good view of the entire swimming area.


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