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Career Advice

How to become a beach lifeguard

How to become a beach lifeguard?

Contrary to what a certain nineties American cult TV series may have informed you, being a beach lifeguard isn’t all about standing around gossiping, pouting your lips and running in slow motion (well at least not in the UK that is). The importance of beach lifeguards in ensuring the safety of beach goers cannot be overestimated…they are the only thing which stands between life and death.

Obviously then it is a role which carries an enormous responsibility and requires a particular aptitude, skill set and Lifeguard_towerpersonal attributes from those who choose to follow it. Hopefully this quick guide will help you through some of the details you need to consider if you fancy the life of a lifeguard.

What does a lifeguard do?

The name alone suggests a rather singular set of job responsibilities and whilst ‘saving lives’ is of course one of the key purposes which lifeguards are expected to undertake, as with most jobs it is deceptively simplistic – here are some of the things that you could be expected to carry out on a day to day basis;

  • Patrol the public beach areas to ensure the safety of those on the beach and in the water

  • Make sure that people on the beach and in the water are behaving in a manner which is safe and abiding by the rules set out by the local authority

  • Enforcing the rules and regulations of the beach by issuing verbal warning to people via a megaphone

  • Rescuing people who are in distress either from the ocean or surrounding beach environment

  • Administering advanced first aid to people who have been injured

  • Monitoring those who have been injured and ensuring their safety until the arrival of emergency services

  • Compiling emergency and medical treatment report forms

  • Maintaining daily records of the weather conditions and general beach conditions

  • At times a beach life-guard may be required to operate a two-way radio system to maintain contact and coordinate activities between emergency rescue units.

What are the benefits of being a beach lifeguard?

With some jobs it can be a bit of a struggle to come up with a respectable amount of benefits to describe (some times lifeguarda sow’s ear is nothing more than a sow’s ear) but this role is definitely a purse of the silken variety. Here’s what we think are some of the biggest perks;

  • The opportunity to work outdoors in the fresh air- granted in cold weather this could be a little unpleasant but remember there is nowhere better to be on a scorching hot day than strolling along a sun drenched beach

  • Escape the monotony of 9-5 life – lifeguards work shifts which can range from the break of dawn until twilight so if you are the kind of person who likes a bit of chronological variety in their working day then this will suit you very well

  • It is a very sociable working environment – lifeguards work in very close teams and often have completed their training together so have the ability to get to know their co-workers very well.  There is also plenty of opportunity to interact with the public in a mostly relaxed environment

  • The opportunity to get in plenty of physical activity during your work day

  • The satisfaction of knowing that you play a key role in ensuring the safety of beachgoers

Pay and long term prospects

Whilst working as a lifeguard is never going to see you featured in the Fortune500, the salary on offer is certainly not935588_paper_money_people to be sniffed at. The average earnings for a lifeguard in the UK is £16,500 but depending upon where you work and how long you have been in the role, this can rise to around £20,000.

The vast majority of lifeguards do not remain in the role for the duration of their career. This is particularly true in the UK owing to the fact that for 6 months of the year the weather is, shall we say “not ideal” for traditional beach pursuits. This also means that for many, the role of lifeguard is something of a seasonal occupation, which makes it a great option for students and young people on the hunt for some summer/ gap year work… although it is certainly open to a range of demographics.

Working as a beach lifeguard can be a great way of beginning a career in the sports, leisure and tourism industries in roles such as gym instructor, swimming coach, leisure centre manager and many more.

What skills and attributes do you need ?

As mentioned above, the criteria to become a lifeguard is quite strict with a very specific skill set and aptitude being required to be accepted.  Some of these include;

  • A very high level of physical fitness

  • Extremely well developed swimming skills- including in open water

  • The ability to maintain absolute concentration for long periods of time and in and often busy environment

  • Highly developed skills of observation

  • A level head and the ability to remain calm in high pressure situations

  • Decisiveness and the ability to act quickly in a crisis

  • The ability to communicate clearly and with authority, especially in emergencies

  • A respectful firm approach with people who are breaking safety rules

  • A clear understanding of the importance of the role in ensuring the safety of people on the beach in in the sea

  • The desire to work effectively as a member of a team

What qualifications/training are involved?

As you would expect there are certain qualifications and training which will need to be undertaken to become a fully qualified beach lifeguard.

You will need to complete one of the following qualifications :

  • RLSS (Soyal Life Saving Society) National Beach Lifeguard Qualification

  • NaRS Beach Lifeguard Award

These can be undertaken either by joining a local RLSS Lifeguard club or SLSA GB Life Saving club as a volunteer and train with them or by registering with a commercial training organisation.

Once you are qualified, you can apply for work with local authorities or with the RNLI.

Best of luck if you still wish to become a lifeguard. But if the notion doesn’t quite float your boat then have a look at some of the other jobs in our career directory to find one that suits.


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