Working as a Lifeguard
This section is about lifeguard work on the beach or in the pool.
The normal operating procedures (NOP) and the emergency protocols (EP) vary among leasure centres. Countries also have their own health and safety laws. Ask your employer for details.
Lifeguards keep people safe in swimming pools, at beaches, rivers and lakes. They observe and supervise swimming areas to prevent accidents, and make sure swimmers are aware of dangerous situations and avoid hazards.
Often lifeguards tell people to stop breaking the safety rules. Your patience will be tested to the limit and you need to be tactful and polite, but also firm.
Lifeguards take charge in emergencies and rescue people from drowning.
You have to be able to concentrate for long periods, and act calmly and decisively in emergencies. People in an accident might be scared or panicking, so you have to calm them down and communicate with them as clearly as possible.
Once you have your qualification, you may want to find somewhere to work.
In many regions there is a shortage of willing lifeguards.
However, it is rare to be hired as a "lifeguard."
You will most likely be called an "Pool Assistant" or something fancy like that.
This is just a way of getting you to do cleaning and assist operations when you are off poolside.
Loos, mirrors, and sinks, three times daily.
Sitting on poolside for a long time can get boring, unless you like watching people swimming up and down. Working in adventure centres or during special events can be more entertaining.
The job is enjoyable if you make it enjoyable. Try and have fun with your colleagues, or chat with your regular customers. But be aware you will sometimes face abusive or rude customers, who will insult you, or disregard your instructions when in the pool. Be firm!
Into the Water
Smart leisure centres with wise management arrange for the lifeguards to go into the pool a few times a day. Especially on busy days extra lifeguards maybe deployed in the pool to supervise and control busy spots like slides or other pool features.
Going into the pool often is probably the best part of the job, where you assist customers to stay happy and fit. You have to keep your uniform on in the water, so swimmers can recognise you as on-duty lifeguard, not a regular swimmer.
While keeping swimmers safe, you'll interact, teach, play games, encourage and build rapport.
How well you do this reflects back onto the leisure centre's reputation and can promote your career.
Most lifeguards are too lazy to put in this effort, but if you like to swim, let your duty manager know that you volunteer for all tasks in the water.
Working in a small sports center might be more varied as the limited staff numbers mean you'll do more different things. The time you spend watching the pool will probably be less than at a larger center. The law in many countries requires that lifeguards rotate to a different position every 20-30 minutes, and also go off poolside every 1 or 2 hours.
An average shift is 8 hours long, but it is very easy to get overtime if you want it. The hours are often not great, usually start at 6 in the morning for an early shift and finish at 2, or start at 2pm and finish around 10pm.
The pay for lifeguarding tends to be very poor, minimum wage usually.
However, lifeguarding is a good entry-level position into the leisure industry,
with advancement opportunities including the option to get qualifications for personal training or swimming teaching,
or just promotions to senior lifeguard or shift/duty manager.