Pool Lifeguarding - Summer 2023-24

Published 23 October 2023

Royal Life Saving Pool Lifeguard Upcoming Summer

* Photo: Pool Lifeguards not on duty

Pool lifeguards save lives, prevent injuries and help people to enjoy their time in and around the water safely.  They are energetic, outgoing, and care about people and safety.

A career as a pool lifeguard brings challenges and rewards, and can lead to further job opportunities in the aquatic industry. It uses many core workplace skills such as communication, risk management, decision making, problem solving, teamwork, customer service and performing under pressure, all of which are transferable to other industry sectors. With the right qualifications it is also a job that can take you all over Australia and the world.

You must be a strong swimmer, and, naturally, the job requires a certain degree of fitness, strength and stamina to act quickly in the case of an emergency.

You must have recognised first aid and resuscitation qualifications, and these must be regularly reviewed and updated.

Flexible working hours

Most lifeguards work part time and casually, and enjoy the flexibility this brings. For example, it allows some people to study while working, or have a second job. For others, it fits in well with childcare or family obligations, allowing you to work when it suits you.

However, lifeguarding can provide a stepping stone for other full-time roles in the aquatic industry and it is also possible to combine roles within a particular facility; for example, you might combine lifeguarding with swim teaching.

Career pathways

After gaining experience working as a lifeguard, you might become a lifeguard team coordinator, and then a duty manager, and eventually an aquatic facility manager. With additional training, it is also possible take on more technical roles such as an aquatic technical operator; managing the water quality, chemicals and plant room equipment.

Competitive pay

As a pool lifeguard you can expect to earn from $26 to $35 per hour, with 20% of lifeguards reporting that they earn an even higher rate. Often this comes with other benefits like free gym membership.

What does it involve day-to-day?

Each pool lifeguard shift can vary. The challenge is to remain vigilant at all times, regardless of whether it is super busy or quiet.  The job chiefly involves closely supervising and patrolling your designated area or zone, communicating with patrons and colleagues, and being ready to prevent incidents before they happen.

It may be that you are working alone and the whole pool is your responsibility, or as part of a large team where you are rotating zones every 20-30 minutes. Either way, you need to remain in tune with your environment, to manage the risks as they present themselves, to prevent incidents where-ever possible and to be ready to respond should an incident arise, which can be anything from a minor injury to a major rescue requiring emergency first aid.

How do I get qualified?

The Royal Life Saving Pool Lifeguard course is a fun, challenging, fast paced course that will prepare you for the responsibility that comes with being a pool lifeguard.  The focus is on building your underpinning knowledge and then practicing key supervision, aquatic rescue and emergency response techniques.

Check out the Royal Life Saving website to access more information about the specific courses delivered in each state and territory across Australia.

How and where do I apply for a job? 

Right now, leading into summer, is a great time to apply.  You can type Pool Lifeguard into the big job search websites such as Seek or Indeed or try a site focussed on jobs in the sport and recreation industry such as Sportspeople.

Lots of aquatic facilities are run by local councils so it is worth checking out your local council website; search for local council in Google or start with the Australian Local Government Association website.   Alternatively you can try the big management agencies such as Belgravia Leisure or The Y, or even reach out to the local high schools in your area as those with pools often need Lifeguards. Do a Google search or try the Australian Schools Directory website.

Combine with Swim Teaching

Some Pool Lifeguards also work as Swim Teachers, furthering their work opportunities and making themselves multi-skilled and highly flexible staff members, which every employer is looking for. Demand for Swim Teachers is also very high and of course teaching people how to swim and be safe around the water means you are providing a life-changing, potentially life saving skill.  Royal Life Saving have been involved in swim teacher training from the very beginning and just like with Pool Lifeguard, we offer courses across Australia. Check out the Royal Life Saving website for more information and reach out to us here at Royal Life Saving if you have any questions.