Lifeguard Certification Pennsylvania (PA)

Lifeguard certification laws in Pennsylvania (PA) pay particularly close attention to a set of criteria that organizations must meet in order to offer valid certification courses.  To get the most for your money, find a course by an organization that is recognized by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

The PA Department of Health recognizes the following as certified lifeguard training authorities:

  • American Red Cross
  • YMCA
  • Jeff Ellis and Associates, Inc.

According to the PA Bulletin’s Rules and Regulations by the Department of Health (28 PA. CODE CH. 18), these 3 organizations are responsible for over 90% of the lifeguarding certifications in the United States and they also set the standard in lifeguard education criteria.

Other organizations besides the above three may qualify as “certifying authorities” but have to submit materials annually to ensure that their program meets the state’s requirements.  Fortunately for students, the state of PA demands that a certifying authority offers certification in first aid and includes CPR training.  These two certifications are also required in addition to the basic lifeguarding certification and it makes it easier when all three are offered in one class.

The Department of Health also specifies that approved lifeguard certification courses meet the following requirements:

  • The course follows a written training plan which will include the use of an instructor’s manual and textbook
  • The course evaluates swimming ability and conducts testing.
  • The course teaches about lifeguard responsibilities.
  • The course must include a certificate that expires in 3 years or less if the renewal requirements are not fulfilled.
  • The course is taught by an instructor that has passed a class with certain criteria, including a certification in lifeguard instruction.

To get an idea for some of the testing that a certification course will demand of you, check out our page on general Lifeguard Certification Requirements.

Each year, the PA Department of Health publishes a current list of accepted organizations in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.  If you want to take a class at a school not listed above, the organization providing the program should be able to show you proof that they have met the state’s criteria.

Currently, the Department of Health also recognizes:

  • Boy Scouts ofAmerica
  • Starfish Aquatics Institute
  • National Aquatic Safety Company


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