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How do I Earn Red Cross Lifeguard Certification?

Ken Black
Ken Black

Getting a Red Cross lifeguard certification gives those interested in being a lifeguard instant credibility in the field. At many locations, it is a requirement that a lifeguard be Red Cross certified. In other cases, where it is not required, having a Red Cross lifeguard certification should help potential candidates get an advantage over others who have not gone through the training. Getting the certification starts with taking the pre-tests and attending the classes, which are available in many locations across the United States.

The most important thing to remember before seeking Red Cross lifeguard certification is that there are certain endurance or skill tests in the water that must be met. These tests are used simply to determine if the lifeguard has the ability to meet the physical requirements of the job. In most cases, the skill and endurance tests will not need to be passed before beginning the course, but must be passed before certification can be awarded.

Infant CPR differs from adult CPR, though a lifeguard should know both.
Infant CPR differs from adult CPR, though a lifeguard should know both.

Practicing these tests becomes essential. The main thing to keep in mind is that you must have the ability to swim for 300 yards (274 meters), including 100 yards (91.5 meters) of front crawl, 100 yards (91.5 meters) of breast stroke, and 100 yards (91.5 meters) of either one or a combination of the two. Further, you must be able to dive to a depth of seven to ten feet and retrieve a 10-pound (4.5 kg) object. Those who cannot do these tasks completely should begin physical training in advance of the class' beginning.

It takes a total of 40 hours of training to receive a Red Cross lifeguard certification, with time split between the pool and classroom. Some locations may offer the course over the period of a single week, while others may hold only one session per week over a number of months. Larger cities may have more flexible options as well. Once the course is completed, you will be certified not only as a lifeguard, but also in first aid and CPR for lifeguards.

The cost of the Red Cross lifeguard certification course could vary greatly from location to location. In general, you may expect to pay as much as $350 US Dollars. Some discounts may be provided at some facilities, and if you already have a possible job lined up, your future employer may agree to pay for the cost of certification. This is routinely done in locations where teenagers are hired for the summer, and simply would not be able to afford the cost of the course.

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    • Infant CPR differs from adult CPR, though a lifeguard should know both.
      By: Roman Milert
      Infant CPR differs from adult CPR, though a lifeguard should know both.