Life guard

A life guard


Life guards monitor and ensure safety in the aquatic facility by preventing and responding to any emergencies. They identify potential risks, advise individuals on proper behaviour and dangerous zones, conduct life-saving techniques such as first aid and supervise activities of the general public.

The duties of a life guard include, but are not limited to:

  • Monitoring the safety of swimmers by scanning the pool area for potential hazards, such as strong currents, shallow areas, or sharp objects on the ground
  • Performing water rescues when necessary to save a swimmer who is in danger of drowning or has already drowned
  • Conducting swim lessons to teach children swimming skills and to provide basic water safety information to parents
  • Observing swimmers in order to detect any potential problems or dangers, such as signs of fatigue or distress
  • Determining when a swimmer has reached their physical limit and should get out of the water
  • Monitoring the condition of the pool to ensure that the water is clean and safe for swimming
  • Instructing and supervising swim classes for children or adults
  • Ensuring that all life guard equipment is in good working order and ready for use at all times
  • Preparing reports on accidents or near misses involving swimmers so that any necessary changes can be made to prevent future incidents

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to life guard:

swimming pool lifeguard
pool attendant
beach lifeguard

Working conditions

Life guards work at beaches, lakes, pools, and water parks. They may work in all weather conditions, including extreme heat and cold. They work long hours, often in shifts, and may work weekends and holidays. Some life guards are employed year-round, while others work only during the summer months.

Life guards must be able to swim well and have good physical stamina. They must also be able to rescue swimmers in distress and administer first aid.

Minimum qualifications

Most employers require life guards to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed a first aid course and CPR certification. Life guards who want to advance their careers can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in lifeguarding or a related field.

Most employers require life guards to complete a training program before they begin working. These programs teach lifeguards how to swim, how to perform CPR and how to use the equipment they will use on the job. They also teach life guards how to handle emergency situations and how to interact with swimmers. In some cases, certification like first aid or CPR may be required to apply for such roles.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Life guard is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Life guard career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to life guard.

door supervisor
crowd controller
armoured car guard
gate guard
crossing guard

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of life guard. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of life guard with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

lifeguard instructor
hand luggage inspector
store detective
swimming teacher
fire inspector

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of life guard.

  • Health, safety and hygiene legislation: The set of health, safety and hygiene standards and items of legislation applicable in a specific sector.
  • Security threats: Types of threats to public and private security such as unauthorised entry, aggressive behaviour, molestation, robbery, theft, assault, kidnapping, murder and public demonstration.
  • Swimming pool safety guidelines: The rules and guidelines related to swimming pool safety, such as rules related to child safety, running, diving, waterslides, electrical appliances, food and drinks, water hygiene, and inflatables.
  • First aid: The emergency treatment given to a sick or injured person in the case of circulatory and/or respiratory failure, unconsciousness, wounds, bleeding, shock or poisoning.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of life guard.

  • Provide first aid: Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or first aid in order to provide help to a sick or injured person until they receive more complete medical treatment.
  • React calmly in stressful situations: React quickly, calmly, and safely to unexpected situations. Provide a solution that solves the problem or diminishes its impact.
  • Supervise pool activities: Ensure pool bathers’ activities comply with the bathing regulations: Inform bathers of pool regulations, perform rescue activities, supervise diving activities and waterslides, take action in case of harassment or trespassing, and deal with misconduct appropriately.
  • Control crowd: Control a crowd or riot, ensuring people do not cross to areas they are not allowed to access, monitoring the crowd’s behaviour and responding to suspicious and violent behaviour.
  • Assist pool users: Offer guidance to pool users within the facility and help them with any requirements such as towel provision or restroom direction.
  • Provide advice on safety: Educate people on safety measures for a certain activity or location.
  • Rescue bathers: Help swimmers or water sport participants out of the water when they get into difficulties at a beach or a swimming pool.
  • Handle veterinary emergencies: Handle unforeseen incidents concerning animals and circumstances which call for urgent action in an appropriate professional manner.
  • Tolerate stress: Maintain a temperate mental state and effective performance under pressure or adverse circumstances.
  • Swim: Move through water by means of the limbs.
  • Practice vigilance: Practice vigilance during patrol or other surveillance activities in order to ensure safety and security, to look out for suspicious behaviour or other alarming changes in patterns or activities, and to respond quickly to these changes.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of life guard. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Fire safety regulations: The legal rules to be applied for fire safety and fire prevention in a facility.
  • Swimming pool chemicals: Types of disinfectants and sanitizers which control the growth of certain bacteria in the pool water.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of life guard. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Restrain individuals: Restrain, or control by force, individuals who violate regulations in terms of acceptable behaviour, who present a threat to others, and who perform acts of violence, to ensure the individual is unable to proceed in this negative behaviour and to protect others.
  • Promote equality in sport activities: Develop policies and programmes that aim to increase the participation and involvement of underrepresented groups in sport, such as women and girls, ethnic minority groups, disabled people and, in some cases, young people.
  • Assist emergency services: Assist the police and emergency services where needed.
  • Maintain quality of pool water: Continuously monitoring the color, temperature and cleanliness of the pool water and take any required action to ensure high standards of water quality in the pool.
  • Maintain pool cleanliness: Regularly supervise the state of the pool, remove debris or rubbish and keep the deck of the pool clean and safe.
  • Manage major incidents: Take immediate action to respond to major incidents that affect the safety and security of individuals in private or public places such as road accidents.
  • Manage lost and found articles: Make sure that all articles or objects lost are identified and that the owners get them back in their possession.
  • Give swimming lessons: Instruct children, adults, beginners and advanced students on swimming techniques and water safety.
  • Handle conflicts: Mediate in conflicts and tense situations by acting between parties, such as service users, important others like families, and institutions, striving to effect an agreement, reconciliate, and resolve problems.
  • Contribute to the safeguarding of children: Understand, apply and follow safeguarding principles, engage professionally with children and work within the boundaries of personal responsibilities.
  • Monitor infrastructure: Monitor and inspect on a regular basis the condition of the swimming pool and its surrounding infrastructure, such as diving boards, ladders and floors.
  • Manage emergency evacuation plans: Monitor quick and safe emergency evacuation plans.
  • Execute administration: Carry out administrative work and establish public relations.
  • Liaise with security authorities: Respond quickly to security incidents and violations by calling the police and keep in touch with other relevant parties involved in the potential prosecution of the offender.
  • Manage theft prevention: Apply theft and robbery prevention; monitor security surveillance equipment; enforce security procedures if needed.
  • Deal with aggressive behaviour: Respond promptly to adverse behaviour in a professional manner by taking appropriate and legal action to prevent further aggressiveness, such as verbal warning, lawful removal from the premises or apprehension of the person involved. Report details of adverse behaviour in line with the organisation’s procedures.
  • Operate fire extinguishers: Understand the operation of fire extinguishing equipment and fire extinguishing techniques.

ISCO group and title

5419 – Protective services workers not elsewhere classified

  1. Life guard – ESCO
  2. Lifeguard Job Description: Salary, Duties, & More – Climb the Ladder
  3. Featured image: Photo by Megan Bucknall on Unsplash
Last updated on November 19, 2022

What do you want to do with this job?

You will be brought to the forum page

Requires a business account

Requires a business account

Thinking about your next career move?

Answer a few questions about your jobs and education, and we’ll give you suggestions about your best possible career move. It’s completely free!