Lifeguard Certification New York (NY)

Lifeguard certification in New York (NY) can be demanding if you wish to work for a state agency.  However if you don’t try to get a job with the state, you will find that the requirements are about average and are similar to many other states.

The New York State Department of Health recognizes the following national agencies for pool lifeguard certifications:

  • American Red Cross
  • American Lifeguard Association
  • Boy Scouts ofAmerica
  • Ellis & Associates Inc.
  • Starfish Aquatics Institute Inc.
  • YMCA

Additional local agencies are also listed on the NY Department of Heath’s website as well as the courses that meet their requirements for surf lifeguarding (see link below in Resources section).

In addition to the lifeguard certification course, lifeguards must have CPR training and should renew this certificate annually.  The lifeguard course is valid for 3 years.  The Department of Health also demands that lifeguards be a minimum of 16 years old.  However if there is a supervisory lifeguard, lifeguards may be only 15.  Candidates for positions in a pool environment must be able to swim for a distance of 300 yards without stopping to rest.  They must also perform a surface dive and bring a 10 lb object back to the surface from a minimum water depth of 9 feet.

Lifeguard certification in New York is a bit more rigorous if you wish to work for the state through the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) or the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

The basic qualifications for these state agencies include:

  • Must be 16 years old but they prefer employees that are 18 years or older.
  • Must be have up-to-date certifications in Waterfront Lifeguarding, Lifeguarding, CPR/AED, and first aid through courses equivalent to those offered by the American Red Cross.  You must also be certified in Waterpark Lifeguarding if the facility you work at has water slides.
  • Candidates will also be interviewed to evaluate maturity level, communication ability, and any related work experience.
  • You will be required to pass a criminal background check prior to employment.

Candidates that pass the basic qualifications and are being considered further for employment will be asked to submit a medical form.  Their physician must confirm that they are physically able to complete lifeguard tasks and that their hearing is average in both ears.  Lifeguards must also prove that they have a minimum of 20/40 uncorrected vision in each eye.  Unfortunately if you have poor vision and must rely on contact or glasses, you will not be eligible to work for the DEC or OPRHP.

Candidates must also complete a practical exam to test physical abilities.  Because the DEC and the OPRHP collaborate to offer more testing opportunities for candidates, you may pass the test from either agency to be eligible to work at both.  For more information about these tests to work for the DEC or OPRHP, please visit their websites.  Links are provided below in the Resources section.


NY Department of Health

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation (OPRHP)

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)

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