How do I Become a Swimming Instructor?

G. Wiesen

The steps necessary for you to become a swimming instructor depend on where you live and what kind of swimming instruction you would like to be a part of. Different countries have different requirements to become a swimming instructor, and you may want to become a general instructor or specialize in a particular field, such as teaching sports like water polo and synchronized swimming or teaching basic aquatics. In any situation, as a swimming instructor your basic duties will be to teach people of all ages to swim, to help coach those interested in water sports, and to ensure the safety of those who are swimming with you.

Swim instructors often have a background in aquatic sports.
Swim instructors often have a background in aquatic sports.

To become a swimming instructor in England, for example, you should contact the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) about what classes are needed to be certified as an instructor. This may require participation in particular courses developed by the Royal Life Saving Society UK (United Kingdom) as part of the National Plan for Teaching Swimming. You can register for classes to become a Rookie Lifeguard or other programs to help you become a certified swimming instructor.

A swim instructor must know how to perform CPR.
A swim instructor must know how to perform CPR.

In other areas, such as the United States (US), you will need to complete specific classes and pass certain tests to be authorized to become a swimming instructor. You will need to become certified in infant, child, and adult cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as well as completing first aid certification courses. These programs are offered by the American Red Cross as well as at many Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) locations. If you have already been CPR and first aid certified, then you may only need to pass re-certification courses offered at American Red Cross and YMCA locations.

Some swimming teachers may specialize in a particular field like synchronized swimming.
Some swimming teachers may specialize in a particular field like synchronized swimming.

You will also need to take a lifeguard certification course and likely need to enroll in a Water Safety Instructor course to become a swimming instructor. These programs are also offered by the American Red Cross and some YMCA locations. Lifeguard and first aid certifications are usually only good for three years before you will need to be re-certified, while CPR certification is good for only one year before re-certification.

In the U.S., taking classes to become an authorized swimming instructor are required.
In the U.S., taking classes to become an authorized swimming instructor are required.

Once you have completed the necessary courses and certifications, you will be qualified to become a swimming instructor. Consider if you want to teach aquatics, which is basic swimming to infants, children, adults, and seniors, or if you might prefer to focus on a specialization such as water polo or synchronized swimming instruction. You might also consider teaching diving, which is a specialized field in which swimming instructors focus on the form and techniques of properly diving into water.

The Red Cross offers CPR certification classes.
The Red Cross offers CPR certification classes.

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Discussion Comments

bythewell

@irontoenail - It can actually be quite difficult to get a job as a swimming instructor, particularly if you don't have some kind of extraordinary swimming background.

It's the fallback job for a lot of swimming athletes who have retired from competition but don't want to leave it entirely. So they are coming to the position with a sparkling resume. If you aren't one of these retired athletes yourself, it can be difficult to compete.

Which is not to say it's impossible. There are a lot of swim instructor jobs going in some countries and some states.

If you are willing to go where you need to go and keep trying, I'm pretty sure anyone can get one in the end.

I think volunteering as a life guard is a good way to get some experience on your resume.

irontoenail

Even if you don't manage to walk into a swimming instructor job right away, it's a good idea to try and do a first aid course and a lifeguard course if you have the time and money spare to do them.

They look fantastic on your resume and can help you get your foot in the door for all kinds of different jobs. Even someone hiring for an office job is going to look more favorably on you if you've got a first aid certification, and it can help you get promoted as well. There are plenty of jobs that won't allow you into management unless you have a first aid certificate.

So definitely work towards becoming a swimming instructor but keep in mind that everything you're adding to your resume on the journey is going to be valuable whether you manage to achieve your goal or not.

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