Are you considering becoming a lifeguard? It’s a challenging and rewarding job that requires conscientiousness, compassion, attention to detail, and physical fitness. It will also teach you valuable lifelong skills. 

Basic Requirements for Lifeguard Certification

In the US, lifeguards must be certified. You need to meet these minimum criteria to be trained as a professional lifeguard:  

  • At least 15 years of age
  • Able to swim 300 yards continuously while demonstrating a breathing technique
  • Tread water for two minutes using your legs only
  • Pass a timed swim including diving, surfacing, and retrieving a weighted object
  • Able to exit the water without using a ladder or stairs


Where to Get Trained and Certified to Become a Lifeguard

Choose your training based on where you want to be a lifeguard. For example, there are different courses and certifications for lifeguarding at a pool, lake, beach, and water park. The course length and cost vary. Generally, courses take between 15 and 30 hours and cost between $150 and $500. To receive training and certification, classes are offered by many organizations, such as the American Red Cross, US Lifesaving Association, the National Aquatic Society, and the YMCA. Safety Solved is an endorsed organization for lifeguard and instructor training for both recreational facilities and company safety compliance programs.

2020 was a rough year to pursue lifeguard certification due to the COVID pandemic. As of December, the American Red Cross offered extensions for certifications for 30 to 120-days depending on the dates they began the certification process. Applicants must have registered for their certificate extension with the American Red Cross by 12/31/20. 

In 2021, completing lifeguard or instructor certification will be challenging due to restrictions on in-person aquatic skills, but Safety Solved can update you as we receive news from the American Red Cross. Virtual courses remain an option for classroom requirements, including CPR training using special props and applications that we provide. New lifeguard training can start now – online!

What Do You Need to Know as a Lifeguard?

To become a professional lifeguard in most US states, it is required to pass the lifeguard course (classroom hours and practical skills training) and get a certification in basic CPR, First Aid, and the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Classes cover and test the following:

  • Water skills 
  • Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • First Aid 
  • Use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) 

Water skills are comprised of swimming, demonstrating strength and stamina in the water, and specific water rescue techniques. Lifeguards must be physically fit, not only to get in and out of the water quickly but also to rescue a drowning, sometimes struggling victim. At this time, Safety Solved is actively exploring opportunities throughout the Denver metro area to host aquatics training safely. If you know of a facility interested in hosting a training, please email us

First Aid skills are also a part of lifeguard classroom instruction. They include things like how to recognize emergency situations, how to treat minor injuries, how to assist choking victims, and how to deal with medical emergencies. Certifying organizations sometimes recommend that prospective lifeguards also get medical clearance themselves before enrolling in a certification program. Safety Solved encourages you to register for classes.

There are Different Types of Lifeguards and Certifications

Ask for help to determine the certification you want. The training for a surf lifeguard covers the requirements of all types of lifeguarding. It allows you to work at an oceanfront beach, a more challenging place to perform rescues with a greater frequency of incidents, in general.  Waterfront lifeguarding allows you to work at non-surf areas, such as public parks, resorts, or campgrounds. A pool lifeguard works at both indoor and outdoor swimming pools.

Being a lifeguard requires a great deal of responsibility, leadership, teamwork, and problem-solving abilities. Having and developing these capabilities, in addition to the practical life-saving skills that lifeguarding requires, make it a valuable job that may also have lasting beneficial effects for you or your company’s safety compliance programs.

If you are interested in being added to the notification list for the current training schedule, please sign up



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Photo credit: Eric Saunders, Unsplash