Fancy yourself as David Hasselhoff or Pamela Anderson? Then why not make money as a lifeguard?
Lifeguards can work part or full time, so you could choose to work around your current job and earn up to £10 an hour whilst performing a vital public service.
- What do lifeguards actually do?
- How can I make money as a lifeguard?
- How much can you make?
- Career progression as a lifeguard
The job of a lifeguard is to keep swimmers safe. This means
- providing general first aid,
- saving people from drowning,
- ensuring the safety of the pool area and its water,
- stopping any dangerous behaviour.
You’ll be required to keep a close eye on everything that’s going on, and make judgements about anything you might consider hazardous or unsafe.
If you like to work with people then you’ll get to meet and greet hundreds by working as a lifeguard. The job can be flexible too, so you can work in the day while the kids are at school, or at nights or weekends to earn some extra cash on top of your full-time job. Also, there is a possibility of promotion, and career progression.
However, there will always be silly people making your job difficult, diving where they shouldn’t and breaking pool rules. You’ll have to deal with these people calmly and responsibly. You have to keep a watchful eye on what’s going on at all times, you can’t just nip off to the loo. If someone’s in danger they’ll need your immediate assistance.
Different lifeguard jobs
There are two types of lifeguard:
- A swimming pool lifeguard – who would be employed by a leisure centre, private club, local authority, hotel or holiday centre.
- A beach lifeguard – who would be employed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
Unless you live right by the sea, you’re likely to be working in a swimming pool environment. Even if you do live right by the sea, there’s not much call for beach lifeguards in the winter months so it’s a good idea to get in with the local swimming pools anyway.
You have to be a strong swimmer and physically fit. Don’t even think about doing this if you can’t swim because then you’ll be the one that needs saving!
Step one: get trained
To be a pool lifeguard you’ll need one of the following qualifications:
- The National Pool Lifeguard Qualification (NPLQ)
- The National Aquatic Rescue Standard (NaRS): Pool Lifeguard
NPLQ and NaRS courses are based at local swimming pools or leisure centres and are run through approved centres, such as colleges and swimming clubs.
To be a beach lifeguard you’ll need one of the following qualifications:
- RLSS National Beach Lifeguard Qualification
- National Aquatic Rescue Standard (NaRS): Beach Lifeguard, run by the Surf Life Saving Association of Great Britain (SLSA GB).
These lifeguard courses can be taken by either training with a commercial training organisation like Harlyn Surf School in Cornwall, or by joining a local RLSS Lifeguard club or SLSA GB life-saving club as a volunteer.
The RLSS website has NPLQ courses available and often offers discounts.
be a poolside assistant
In some instances, there are places that will hire you as a poolside assistant without any professional skills, and train you while you work, resulting in the necessary qualifications.
The cost of lifeguard training courses varies depending on their location. Expect to pay between £100 and £250, although if you receive Government benefits, you may be entitled to discounts. Make sure to ask if you are eligible for reduced fees before you pay up.
Many lifeguards also take courses through which enable them to teach swimming to people from all walks of life.
Because you’ll be working with or around children, you’ll need to undergo a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. If you don’t already have one up-to-date, then your employer is required to arrange this for you.
Step two: apply for work
There are a few job sites specialising in the leisure industry. Here are some that list lifeguard jobs:
However, there’s nothing to stop you going to your nearest pool, or to the beach, and asking about vacancies.
If you’re a regular swimmer at your local pool – perhaps a member of their swimming club – you may be able to start work with them and be trained on the job. It’s always worth asking.
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- A part-time lifeguard can earn anything between £7 and about £10.50 per hour. This will depend on your level of experience and the type of place you’re working for. For example, a posh private members club will pay a higher wage than that of your local leisure centre.
- Working full time could earn you a salary of between £13,000 and £21,000, again depending on the location and your previous experience.
Also, with the right qualifications, you’ll have the opportunity to take your skills abroad. There are holiday camps, centres and hotels abroad which need English-speaking lifeguards for their swimming pools. If you wanted to take a year out then it’s an ideal way to earn some money while you’re on your travels.
If you find that you enjoy the hours spent by the pool, you might be interested in the opportunities for career progression.
- You could train your own team of life guards or even compete in lifesaving competitions. The National Lifesaving Championships is the top lifesaving competition in the UK and there is even a GBR Lifesaving team competing in the European Championships.
- If you’re thinking about you’re long term future, you could also become a leisure centre manager with the National Pool Management Qualification. This is only a four day course which trains you in the safe operation of swimming pools, risk assessment and pool safety. Full time managers can earn up to £29,000.
Visit the National Careers Service for more info on how to make money as a lifeguard.