The average lifeguard salary (according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics in their Occupational Outlook Handbook for 2010-2011) for the lowest paid lifeguards is $7.64 an hour while the highest paid make $13.74 or more an hour.
Also according to the report, the most employment opportunities and the highest wages are to be found in the sunny state of California. Texas comes in #2 for highest employment and New York is #2 for highest wages.
While these wages sound good for a summer job, the numbers are hardly tempting for anyone wanting to make a full-time career out of lifeguarding. So what can you do to improve your chances of a higher lifeguard salary?
According to an article from USA Today about the average wage for a full-time lifeguard in Newport Beach, most of the beach lifeguards in this California city earn over $100,000 a year! This goes to show that while there might be some competition at the top, lifeguarding can evolve into a lucrative career if you get the training and develop your skills.
Tips for Improving Your Lifeguard Salary
- Get additional certifications and training certificates above the minimum requirements for lifeguarding. Having specialized knowledge and multiple areas of knowledge always pays. For example, being trained in monitoring and manipulating pool water chemistry could be an added skill that would make you more valuable to employers because they won’t need to hire additional personnel to complete that task. Or having certifications to work both in a pool and at a beach environment could increase your changes of finding a good job, such at a beachfront resort which also has pool facilities.
- Work your way up in the field to a position as a supervisor or manager at an aquatic facility. The American Red Cross offers a “Lifeguard Management” program for those who want to take their lifeguarding career to the next level by getting training to become a manager or supervisor of other lifeguards.
- Use lifeguarding as a platform to launch another career. You could use your lifeguarding knowledge and skills to become a “Water Safety Instructor” teaching classes at the American Red Cross. This certification is recognized nationally so you wouldn’t only have to teach swimming lessons at Red Cross facilities.
- Another idea for branching into other opportunities is to get involved in related work environments such as a scuba-diving or surfing school or on a cruise ship. You never know where your work experience will take you and getting started in the company where you want to work your way up will make it easier for you to grow your career.