There are 151,800 lifeguards, ski patrol, and other recreational protective service workers employed in the United States. Lakes and beaches are not the only work venues for lifeguards and swimming instructors. Hotels, schools, park districts, and health clubs all have swimming facilities, as well as public pools and institutions, such as the YMCA. Most places hire lifeguards and instructors on a temporary or seasonal basis. Opportunities for full-time employment are greater in areas that have warm weather year-round.
There is no standard way to enter this field. Many lifeguards and instructors find employment at facilities they normally frequent, or by word of mouth. The newspaper want ads are a good source—check under "Swimming Instructor" or "Lifeguard." Web sites of municipalities, schools, camps, and other organizations that hire lifeguards and swimming instructors may also provide job listings. Also, consider compiling a list of swimming facilities in your area and send job inquiries to those that interest you.
Many guards and instructors, employed on a temporary or seasonal basis, return to their jobs every summer until they finish school. There are quite a number of lifeguards and instructors who use their passion for the water and skills acquired while on the job as a basis for a full-time career.
There are other options as well. With hard work, ample experience, and further education, lifeguards and instructors can move into managerial positions such as head lifeguard, who assists managers and oversees all other guards; aquatics manager, who is responsible for the maintenance and operation of a pool; or instructor supervisor, who is involved in the hiring, training, and managing of all staff instructors. Highly skilled swimmers may choose to work as aquatic specialists, who run lifeguarding and instructor training programs or may even train professional swimmers.
Read American Lifeguard Magazine (https://www.usla.org/page/AMERICANLIFEGUARD) to learn more about the field.
Visit https://www.usla.org/networking/opening_search.asp for job listings.
Participate in the United States Lifesaving Association's junior lifeguard program to develop your swimming and water rescue skills and learn water and beach safety and first-aid techniques.
Join the United States Lifesaving Association to receive a subscription to American Lifeguard Magazine, attend lifeguard educational conferences, and participate in networking events.