What is the Red Cross Lifeguard Test?

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  • Written By: Harriette Halepis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 10 November 2019
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In order to become a Red Cross lifeguard, prospective candidates must successfully complete the Red Cross lifeguard test. This test consists of four portions including a swimming, written, timed and demonstrated skills test. Each segment must be completed with ease in order for a person to become a Red Cross lifeguard.

In order to participate in the Red Cross lifeguard test, applicants must be at least 15 years of age. In addition, all candidates must sign up for the test at a local Red Cross location. Upon registering for the test, each applicant will be expected to complete various training sessions. These sessions consists of numerous techniques and life saving procedures that are vital to the lifeguard profession. While these courses are mandatory, they are not free of charge. Contacting a local Red Cross chapter will help to determine the cost of Red Cross lifeguard courses in addition to the test fee.

In conjunction with the various portions of the Red Cross lifeguard test, all candidates must also complete a timed test that is administered by a Red Cross official. This test includes a surface dive, a simulated rescue task, and a 50 meter (45.72 yard) swim. This test is a relatively difficult one that requires a fair amount of stamina and skill.


Since lifeguards must be strong swimmers, the most important segment of the lifeguard test is the swimming portion. All potential lifeguards must be able to complete each swimming section of the test including a basic breaststroke, a 300 yard (274 meters) continuous swim, and a freestyle segment. Essentially, all Red Cross lifeguards must have the strength to swim for a long period of time without tiring.

Following the swimming section, a written examination is administered. This consists of questions related to basic medical safety and prevention. The Red Cross will provide all candidates with a written test guide that should be thoroughly read and understood before attempting to complete the written portion of the exam, since all candidates must score 80 percent or higher on the written examination in order to pass this part of the test.

Also, candidates must be able to demonstrate learned skills in front of a judge. Skills that will be tested include basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills, first aid skills, and other life saving tasks. The Red Cross lifeguard certification is given to those people who successfully complete the Red Cross lifeguard test.


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Post 4

YMCA's will be willing to allow financially challenged students a reduction in the fee if they are willing to work for the YMCA.

Post 3

@Clairdelune - I know of two programs that your nephew might be interested in. There is the water instruction and safety classes and tests. Candidates must be at least 16 years old. When they pass the courses and tests, they are qualified to teach swimming and water safety to all ages - children on up to senior citizens. This includes disabled people.

If you are at least 17 years old and have a current basic water safety certificate, you are eligible to take the classes and testing to become an instructor to those who want to learn to be a lifeguard.

Post 2

I have a nephew who has worked as a lifeguard every summer since he was 16 years old. He is now 20 years old, and says he is a little tired of being a lifeguard, sitting and watching most of the time. He would like more of a challenge, but still wants to work with people and be in the water.

Any information about what he could do?

Post 1

I know the Red Cross is a volunteer organization that does many wonderful things. However, I think that it's too bad that there isn't some way to pay the training and testing fees for at least some of the applicants for lifeguard training.

I'm sure there are many teens from low-income families who would love to get Red Cross life guarding training. And then to move into a summer job would be great for them.

Anyone know if there's any kind of scholarship program available?

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