Most lifeguards work outdoors, in all weather conditions, ranging from extremely hot conditions to cold and windy. Some pool lifeguards work at indoor pools, where it can become very humid. Lifeguards generally work long hours, which includes early mornings, evenings and weekends, and especially during peak seasons, such as the Christmas holidays.
Earnings for lifeguards can vary depending on their level of experience, the demand for their services, and the seasonal nature of their work. As a lifeguard develops their skills, their earning potential will generally increase.
Contact your preferred place of employment, such as an aquatic centre or a lifesaving club, to find out more regarding current salary conditions.
All lifeguards, regardless of where they are working, make use of general first aid equipment and wear easily identifiable uniforms (though pool lifeguard uniforms vary between individual venues). Lifeguards working outdoors also require appropriate protection from the sun, such as hats, sunglasses and sunscreen.
When carrying out general maintenance duties, pool lifeguards use water-testing equipment, lane ropes and cleaning equipment. Some surf lifeguards use specialised vehicles to assist in patrolling beaches and carrying out rescues - these include, All Terrain Vehicles (ATVs), surf-skis and small power boats. They also use the distinctive red and yellow flags to mark out areas of water that are safe to swim in, and two-way radios to keep in contact with other lifeguards.
To become a lifeguard you need to obtain special certifications from the relevant body.
To become a pool lifeguard you need to complete a Pool Lifeguard certificate issued by the Royal Life Saving Society – Western Australia, and hold a current Bronze Medallion Certificate.
To become an ocean lifeguard you need to hold a current Bronze Medallion, and complete courses in Provide Advanced Resuscitation Techniques, Provide Emergency Care for Suspected Spinal Injury, Basic Beach Management (Silver Medallion). You will also need to have a current driver’s licence (provisional or higher). You may also require a motorised rescue craft licence.
Ocean lifeguards require this additional training in order to be able to deal with the unique challenges posed by working in a dynamic and changing ocean environment. Ocean lifeguards also require a high level of physical fitness and are required to undertake a fitness assessment.
Contact Royal Life Saving Society of Australia, the Australian Lifeguard Service or Surf Life Saving WA for more information.
To complete any lifeguard training you must be at least 17 years old and hold an Apply First Aid certificate.
To work with children in Western Australia, you must obtain a Working with Children Check issued by the Working with Children Screening Unit of the Department of Community Services.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.