As with any other state, the requirements for getting a lifeguard certification in South Carolina (SC) vary based on work location. If you want to work on a beachfront, be aware that the demands will almost always be more rigorous than if you were to work by the pool. Do not let this deter you however. South Carolina has incredible beaches that numerous tourists flock to every summer. Getting trained in surf lifeguarding will certainly expand your future employment opportunities.
The Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission (CCPRC) offers oceanfront lifeguard certifications and taking a look at their requirements will give you a good idea of what skills are demanded of a beachfront lifeguard. The CCPRC Ocean Rescue training is certified with the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), a leader in setting the standard for beachfront lifeguarding. The CCPRC requires that candidates be at least 16 years of age and already have a Lifeguarding certification from either the American Red Cross or the YMCA. The CCPRC ocean rescue physical fitness test includes a 550 yard swim in a pool within the 9 minute time limit. There is also a 500 meter open water swim with a time limit of 10 minutes and a 1 mile run within 8 minutes.
To keep skills fresh, ocean rescue lifeguards of the CCPRC are expected to attend monthly in-service training as well as weekly training sessions to maintain physical fitness and CPR/First Aid knowledge. Some of the weekly requirements include practice rescues, a 5 mile run, a 1,600 yard swim, a 1,600 yard paddle on a paddleboard, and a 1,600 yard paddle in a kayak. Needless to say, CCPRC lifeguards are extremely fit! If you’re up for the challenge, working for a summer or two with the Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission would give you a great edge on your resume.
But if you’re not up for the demands of beachfront lifeguarding, don’t automatically think that you won’t find a job in South Carolina. You’ll find that the requirements to work at a pool or waterpark are less demanding than those described above. For example, the city of North Charleston offers American Red Cross (ARC) lifeguard training and the requirements for the standard ARC lifeguarding classes are much less rigorous than those for beachfront. The city requires that candidates be at least 15 years of age, be able to swim for 500 yards, and know the following 3 strokes: crawl, breaststroke, and elementary back. Their course lasts about 30 hours and includes both first-aid and CPR training. The City of Charleston also offers a similar program. Visit both of their websites listed in the Resources section below for additional information.