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How do I Choose the Best Lifeguard Certification Classes?

By Carol Francois
Updated May 17, 2024
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The best lifeguard certification classes usually are challenging but rewarding, focused, cost effective, and relevant. Lifeguard certification classes are required for anyone who wants to work as a lifeguard. These classes are available from the Red Cross®, Red Crescent®, Royal Lifesaving Society®, and other water-safety agencies. A lifeguard is specially trained in water safety, emergency response, and first aid. He or she is hired to supervise people near or in the water and respond if needed.

People who are interested in lifeguard certification classes typically are teenagers who want to secure a position as a lifeguard. This can be a great part-time job that provides higher-than-average pay, complete with an enjoyable work environment. Many people become a lifeguard as a way to pay for post-secondary education.

Lifeguard certification classes have two components: on deck and in the water. The classroom aspect of the training focuses on lifesaving techniques, identifying risks, and situation management skills. Communication, assertiveness, and confidence typically are all essential in this role. A lifeguard must be able to direct a crowd of people and manage an emergency situation to be effective.

The water aspect of lifeguard certification classes usually focuses on physical swimming skills and techniques used to rescue swimmers. These physical skills require practice and observation to learn. The best classes typically offer extended in-pool training sessions, complete with access to coaching in order to improve the techniques used.

Course material typically is set by the certifying agency. In most cases the time allotted for the course requires a highly focused approach with minimal allowance for wasting time. As a result, the best classes are lead by skilled, experienced trainers. You usually should avoid classes where the instructor appears to be unsure, as the material to be covered is quite significant.

The cost of lifeguard certification classes varies by agency, but most offer multiple scheduling options. Look for a schedule that meets your needs and timetable. For example, a crash course that take two full weekends may be slightly more expensive, but it could offer an opportunity for faster certification than a course offered once a week for six months.

Typically, the best lifeguard certification classes cover all aspects of water safety and lifesaving skills, with additional focus on the skills you are most likely to need. For example, courses in coastal cities or near large bodies of water may include additional training on the unique hazards of outdoor water rescue operations. Other specific training may include water-park risk assessments and boating hazards.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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