Types of Lifeguard Certification in the United States

When planning your career as a lifeguard, you will initially need to decide on your favorite aquatic environment in which you would like to work and obtain the qualification required for that environment, as each certification provides training in different knowledge and skills.

For example, if you love surfing and would like to work on a beach, only a surf lifeguard qualification would allow you to work as a beach lifeguard. Holders of the basic lifeguard certification are eligible to serve as lifeguards in swimming pools only. You should keep this in mind when enrolling in a training course.

Currently, you can find several types of lifeguard training and certifications in the United States:

  • lifeguard certification – holders act as lifeguards in common pools
  • lifeguard in front of the sea – incumbents serve as lifeguards within non-surfing open water locations such as national lakes, fish ponds, and also rivers
  • water park lifeguard – holders act as lifeguards in water parks
  • shallow water lifeguard – Holders act as lifeguards within normal aquatic environments that can be up to 4 to 5 feet deep, such as wading pools, rivers, and private shallow pools
  • surfing lifeguard – holders act as lifeguards in surf environments such as ocean beaches, which is the most demanding and dangerous place

The actual standards associated with lifeguard qualification are generally set through the American Red Cross, the USLA, and Jeff Ellis and Associates, while for open water surfing it is set by the United States Lifesaving Association.

To begin a lifeguarding career, you will need to meet several physical requirements and have the required certifications as outlined above. The most common method of obtaining certificates is typically by completing a qualification training program provided or co-organized with the organizations listed below:

  • american red cross
  • the Starfish Aquatic Institute
  • boy scouts of america
  • the National Water Safety Company (NASCO)
  • the YMCA
  • the city of Los Angeles
  • Jeff Ellis and Associates

The rating issued by these organizations is likely to be recognized and accepted by business owners as well as federal corporations in the United States. Numerous educational institutions, marine centers with hobby amenities, or swimming pools offer American Red Cross-approved lifeguard qualification classes.

The American Red Cross is probably the most widely accepted certification. Red Cross-certified lifeguards may perform better in a job search, especially in competitive regions.

But if you want to be a beach lifeguard, you must have completed the surf lifeguard certification course. The curriculum is defined by the United States Life Saving Association. You must find a USLA certified training organization for surf lifeguard certification training.

In Los Angeles, receiving training and certification offered by the City of Los Angeles is the preferred way to enter the lifeguarding profession.

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