Lifeguard Certification Massachusetts (MA)

State Requirements for Lifeguard Certification in Massachusetts (MA)

  • To be employed as a lifeguard, you must be able to prove that you are at least 16 years old.
  • If you are an employee of the state, you must also prove (with a passport, work permit visa, or birth certificate) that you are aU.S.citizen or are a legal alien.
  • You must be certified in the 3 general areas:
    1. Lifeguard Training
    2. First Aid
    3. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
  • To work at one ofMassachusetts’s beaches, you will also need to have a “Waterfront Lifeguarding” certification (or the equivalent) in addition to the above three certificates.
  • To become a Head Lifeguard, the “Lifeguard Instructor” certification is preferred but a “Head Lifeguarding” certification or equivalent will qualify you for the job.  Again, you must additionally posses the other basic certifications to be considered for a position.

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) employs about 500 of the state’s lifeguards.  On their website, the Department has included a partial list of the certification classes that meet their requirements for each of the 3 areas.

  • Lifeguard Training: They accept the American Red Cross Lifeguard Training and the YMCA Lifeguarding programs.
  • First Aid: The DCR recognizes the American Red Cross Community First Aid & Safety class, the American Red Cross Standard First Aid class, as well as the National Safety Council’s eight hour first aid “Green Cross” course.
  • CPR: The American Red Cross CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer and the American Heart Association CPR for the Health Care Provider certifications are accepted by the DCR.

Please note that all of the above certifications must be up to date.  Lifeguard training courses generally expire within 3 years and the first aid & CPR certifications are only valid for 1 year.

If your certification course is not listed above, you may contact the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to find out if it meets their minimum requirements.

If you want to be employed through the state’s DCR, you will also need to pass a physical test as part of their hiring process.

The DCR’s test for pool/inland lifeguards requires candidates to:

  • Finish a timed 500 yard swim in 11 minutes or less
  • Retrieve a 10 pound object in water that is 12-15 feet deep
  • Pass the Lifeguarding, First Aid, & CPR written exams with a score of 80% or higher
  • Demonstrate passive victim recovery skills
  • Demonstrate active victim recovery skills
  • Demonstrate submerged victim recovery skills

In addition to the above, the test for “surf” or ocean beach lifeguards requires candidates to:

  • Run 100 yards before entering the water
  • Swim for 150 yards
  • Run 100 yards after the swim
  • Complete the timed 500 yard swim in 9.5 minutes or less (not 11 minutes)

Unfortunately if you are unable to complete the 500 yard swim in the required time for either test, you will automatically fail.  In the remaining parts of the exam, candidates are evaluated using a point system and you must get 75 points or more to pass.


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