How to become a Lifeguard

Lifeguards look after the safety of people at beaches or swimming pools through accident prevention and rescue, as well as public relations and public education.

Personal requirements of a Lifeguard

  • Enjoy outdoor activities
  • Able to cope with the physical demands of the job
  • Good communication skills
  • Work well in a team environment
  • Able to be alert for long periods
  • Be of appropriate age as restrictions may apply

Education & Training for a Lifeguard

You can work as a lifeguard without formal qualifications but you may need to obtain a special licence from the relevant body. Entry to this occupation may be improved if you have qualifications. To become a pool lifeguard, you usually have to obtain a certificate or licence issued by the Royal Life Saving Society Australia (RLSSA). To become an ocean lifeguard, you usually have to complete a VET qualification in public safety (aquatic search and rescue). As subjects and prerequisites can vary between institutions, you should contact your chosen institution for further information.

Duties & Tasks of a Lifeguard

Lifeguards may perform the following tasks:

  • supervise swimmers and bathers to prevent accidents and make sure they follow safety regulations
  • rescue swimmers in difficulty and provide first aid treatment if required
  • educate the community about water safety
  • place signs or barriers to warn of dangerous conditions or areas and make sure users are aware of potential dangers
  • caution people behaving in an unsafe manner and expel those who refuse to cooperate
  • report incidents to management or other authorities
  • design and implement emergency procedures
  • undertake basic water quality control and testing procedures
  • maintain rescue equipment
  • care for lost children
  • perform basic administrative duties such as writing reports.

Working conditions for a Lifeguard

Lifeguards who work at outdoor venues spend most of their time in conditions that vary from extremely hot to cold and windy.

Employment Opportunities for a Lifeguard

Pool lifeguards are employed by local councils or by private commercial pool owners. Indoor facilities and some councils retain people all year round, but there are more opportunities for outdoor pool and beach work during the warmer months, or casual work during school holidays and on weekends. Ocean lifeguards are employed by seaside councils or private commercial contractors such as Surf Life Saving Australia and Lifeguarding Services Australia.

Additional Information
To obtain an RLSSA certificate or licence, you must hold a current Bronze Medallion Certificate. For full details, contact Surf Life Saving Australia. Ocean lifeguards must have high levels of swimming and surfing competence, and may be required to hold a current drivers licence and motorised watercraft licence. You may be able to gain the necessary qualifications and certifications by completing a Surf Life Saving Australia Advanced Life Saving Certificate (Gold Medallion). Pool and ocean lifeguards may also require a National Police Certificate, a Provide First Aid Certificate and a Working with Children Check. Councils and private commercial contractors ensure that employees meet the minimum qualifications required by the state or territory government.
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