In the last few years the face of lifeguarding has changed. When I first became a Pool Attendant, which to be honest was a long time ago, I studied the RLSS UK Bronze Medallion. This has now progressed to the RLSS UK National Pool Lifeguard Qualification, and is on its 8th Edition/First Revision.
The Pool Lifeguard role tends to get wrapped up with the role of the leisure assistant/attendant or whatever the leisure manager names it on the job description. In truth though, it is an important and distinct role in itself.
The title of this blog, “A Proper Job”, is in no way meant to be disrespectful to people, it’s simply my sense of humour. When young people attend courses and are wanting to be employed as a lifeguard they are often studying at college or university. When they leave education and the leisure industry they often announce that they are going to get a “proper job”.
Lifeguarding has always been a proper job! What other industry would give young people the responsibility to protect people’s lives and even save someone!
How To Become A Lifeguard
RLSS UK, the most awarded lifeguard qualification in UK and Ireland, states that 70% of RLSS UK lifeguards are between 16 to 25 years old. Even though there are a high number of lifeguards, there is deemed to be a lifeguard shortage, because they do not enter the workplace. To counteract this shortage, the largest leisure operator in the UK, GLL, actively promote the recruitment of older lifeguards. These are new people into the industry, but there are many excellent lifeguards who have worked in the leisure industry for many years.
The Pool Lifeguard qualification is an entry level qualification for the leisure industry. It is invaluable to ensuring swimming pools are open and managed safely. It’s the most cost-effective way to get qualified to work in a leisure centre swimming pool.
Lifeguarding offers the most hours of employment compared to other qualifications like swimming teaching and fitness qualifications. People once employed in leisure centre’s usually get supported if they wish to become qualified in swimming teaching or fitness qualifications if they wish to follow this route.
Pool Operators offer apprenticeships to people who wish to work in leisure, where they will gain vital experience plus a range of qualifications to qualify as a lifeguard, swimming teacher or fitness instructor.
Being employed as a lifeguard does not just mean gaining employment at a leisure centre. The work can be seasonal work in the summer at holiday camps from March to October or just the summer holidays.
There are many more opportunities abroad in the summer with people attending lifeguard courses to work in the American/Canadian summer camps. This is not only for students, any person can apply to work in the summer camps. This is great experience for people working for a few months in a camp and then travelling round America. In the past, some of my candidates who were studying had never worked in the UK as a lifeguard, but just worked in the Summer camps in America and Canada.
Likewise, TUI recruit swimming teachers for the summer season swimming lessons. Swimming teachers can give the parents peace of mind that their children have got qualified people looking after their children.
Making A Career From Lifeguarding
Working as a lifeguard has many benefits whether as a starting point of a career in the leisure industry or working as lifeguard seasonally or summertime whilst studying.
To get a job as a lifeguard, a candidate must be qualified they apply for the role. Lifeguard courses take five/six days to complete with an independent assessment at the end of the training course, Candidates learn the theory of lifeguarding, aquatic rescue skills and cardiopulmonary resuscitation and First Aid Skills.
Achieving and getting qualified a pool lifeguard offers great opportunities for people whatever age, it enables to progress as a career in the leisure industry at whatever level, enables people to support themselves through education, training as a lifeguard gives people excellent skills.
My personal experience was starting out at the local swimming pool as a pool attendant, plus working as a beach lifeguard. I then progressed into leisure management, and whilst working in leisure I became a lifeguard trainer.
Eventually, I left full time work and set up a training business training people to be lifeguards and lifeguard trainers and a range of first aid courses.