Do you want to get your lifeguard instructor certification so that you can teach lifeguarding courses this summer?  The first step is to understand where to look for your training and then the second step is to think strategically about which option would be the best for your career.

In this article, we will go over 3 possible places that you can receive your teaching certificate:

  1. The American Red Cross
  2. Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.
  3. The National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO)

In addition to the information you will find in this post, plan to do some research in your local town or city.  What certifying organization is the most popular with lifeguards in the area?  To have a competitive edge in your future job search, it will make a lot of sense to become certified to teach whatever courses are the most popular locally.

The American Red Cross

The American Red Cross (ARC) is perhaps the most popular organization in the field for lifeguard instructor certification.

Their Lifeguarding Instructor Course certifies successful graduates to teach all ARC lifeguarding courses including first aid and CPR/AED skills.  The notable exception to this rule is the Waterfront Skills course which requires an additional Waterfront Skills certification for instructors to be eligible to teach.

Here are some additional American Red Cross prerequisites and requirements:

  • The course length is generally around 21 hours.
  • The certificate will remain valid for 2 years.
  • Students must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Students should have a current ARC certificate for Lifeguarding/First Aid/CPR/AED or an equivalent certificate from another organization.

Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.

Jeff­ Ellis & Associates offers its signature International Lifeguard Training Program™ (ILTP) at aquatic facilities and educational institutions around the country.

Visit their website to see if their “ILTP™ Instructor Training” course is currently being offered at your local training center.

Students who successfully complete the course will be approved to teach the “ILTP™ Lifeguard Training” as well as CPR/AED/First Aid training courses.

Training requirements:

  • The course time is approximately 26 hours.
  • You must be at least 19 years of age prior to the first class date.
  • You must pass a prerequisite screening test.
  • You must possess a current ILTP™ lifeguard license before the course begins.
  • The instructor license is valid for 2 years.
  • To renew your certification, you must pass a 12 hour renewal course.

The National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO)

The National Aquatic Safety Company (NASCO) offers training for lifeguard instructors through the NASCO Instructor Course which is approximately 20-24 hours in length.

The successful completion of this course certifies trainees to teach all of NASCO’s lifeguard programs including Advanced First Aid/CPR, Waterpark Attendant and Water Sentry.

Before students are eligible to take this course, they must have completed either the Basic Lifeguard Certification Course or the Deep Water Certification Course.

Listed below are the requirements for both of these prerequisite courses:

  • You must be at least 16 years old.
  • You must be able to swim for 200 yards without pausing to rest.
  • You must be able to recover a 10-pound brick from deep water and swim with it for 15 feet.


Having an understanding of typical lifeguard equipment before you begin your training or start your first job will give you an advantage.  There are a number of pieces that make the job both easier and safer for yourself and help you to save lives.  Some of the basic tools include:

Rescue Flotation Devices – These rescue aids make saving a drowning person easier and safer for both you and the victim.  There are a number of different floats to use and can include a lifebuoy which looks like a circular red ring, a rescue buoy which are made out of plastic and have handles on the sides (also called rescue cans), or a rescue tube.   People that work in waterfront or ocean surf environment may also have access to an inflatable rescue boat to use on rescue missions.

First Aid Kit – During the typical certification course, you will become familiar with the simple first aid tools and how to use them.  Beyond the basic bandages, disinfectants, and antiseptic ointments for minor injuries, a pool or beachside safety kit might include any or all of the following: an automated external defibrillator (AED), a resuscitator, a spinal immobilization board, a cervical collar, and/or oxygen equipment.

Whistle – Guards use whistles to get attention of swimmers in order to put an end to unsafe behaviors or to signal that the pool must be cleared for an emergency like an approaching storm with lightning or a drowning victim. They can also be used to communicate closing time or to get the attention of fellow lifeguards.

Two-Way Radio – Sometimes guards have a two-way radio or other communicate device to talk with other staff.

Masks and Snorkels – Especially at lakes and beaches, lifeguard equipment that helps you to see and breathe comfortably underwater will be used frequently.

Megaphone – At some water areas, megaphones are used to make announcements to swimmers.

Binoculars – Seeing long distances is especially essential when you are responsible for large areas such as at a beach or lake.

Transportation Vehicles –Guards working at lake or beach where large distances must be covered might have access to transportation on gators, pick-up trucks, or all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) like a four-wheeler.

Chairs and Umbrellas – To conserve energy and minimize sun exposure, a typical station has a chair sometimes shaded by an umbrella.


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