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Career profile Lifeguard

Also known as Beach Attendant, Beach Lifeguard, Lifeguard, Marine Safety Officer, Ocean Lifeguard, Ocean Lifeguard Specialist, Pool Attendant, Pool Lifeguard, Ski Patrol Paramedic, Ski Patroller


Also known as Beach Attendant, Beach Lifeguard, Lifeguard

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$18,490 - $38,330 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Monitoring
  • Speaking
  • Social Perceptiveness
Knowledge Areas
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Education and Training
Core tasks
  • Rescue distressed persons, using rescue techniques and equipment.
  • Patrol or monitor recreational areas, such as trails, slopes, or swimming areas, on foot, in vehicles, or from towers.
  • Contact emergency medical personnel in case of serious injury.
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What does a Lifeguard do?

Lifeguards monitor recreational areas, such as pools, beaches, or ski slopes, to provide assistance and protection to participants.

What kind of tasks does a Lifeguard perform regularly?

Lifeguards are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Rescue distressed persons, using rescue techniques and equipment.
  • Patrol or monitor recreational areas, such as trails, slopes, or swimming areas, on foot, in vehicles, or from towers.
  • Contact emergency medical personnel in case of serious injury.
  • Examine injured persons and administer first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, if necessary, using training and medical supplies and equipment.
  • Warn recreational participants of inclement weather, unsafe areas, or illegal conduct.
  • Maintain quality of pool water by testing chemical levels.
  • Complete and maintain records of weather and beach conditions, emergency medical treatments performed, and other relevant incident information.
  • Instruct participants in skiing, swimming, or other recreational activities and provide safety precaution information.
  • Inspect recreational equipment, such as rope tows, T-bars, J-bars, or chair lifts, for safety hazards and damage or wear.
  • Inspect recreational facilities for cleanliness.

The above responsibilities are specific to Lifeguards. More generally, Lifeguards are involved in several broader types of activities:

Assisting and Caring for Others
Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
Performing General Physical Activities
Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
Performing for or Working Directly with the Public
Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Documenting/Recording Information
Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.

What is a Lifeguard salary?

The median salary for a Lifeguard is $25,020, and the average salary is $27,050. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Lifeguard salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Lifeguards earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Lifeguards earn less than $18,490 per year, 25% earn less than $20,680, 75% earn less than $30,070, and 90% earn less than $38,330.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Lifeguards is expected to change by 24.5%, and there should be roughly 35,700 open positions for Lifeguards every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$18,490 - $38,330
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Lifeguards?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Lifeguard are usually higher in their Realistic and Social interests.

Lifeguards typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Also, Lifeguards typically have very strong Social interests. Social occupations frequently involve working with, communicating with, and teaching people. These occupations often involve helping or providing service to others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Lifeguard tend to value Relationships, Support, and Achievement.

Most importantly, Lifeguards strongly value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Second, Lifeguards strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Lastly, Lifeguards strongly value Achievement. Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Lifeguards must consistently demonstrate qualities such as dependability, cooperation, and concern for others.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Lifeguards, ranked by importance:

Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Lifeguards need?

Working as a Lifeguard usually requires a high school diploma.

Lifeguards need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Lifeguards

  • 1.9% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 19.0% completed high school or secondary school
  • 26.2% completed some college coursework
  • 9.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 32.4% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 9.4% earned a Master's degree
  • 1.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Lifeguards

Lifeguards may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as customer and personal service, public safety and security, or education and training knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Lifeguards might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Customer and Personal Service
Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Education and Training
Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Medicine and Dentistry
Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

Important Abilities needed by Lifeguards

Lifeguards must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Lifeguards need abilities such as problem sensitivity, oral expression, and far vision in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Lifeguards, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Oral Expression
The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Far Vision
The ability to see details at a distance.
Oral Comprehension
The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Selective Attention
The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.

Critical Skills needed by Lifeguards

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Lifeguards frequently use skills like monitoring, speaking, and social perceptiveness to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Lifeguards, ranked by their relative importance.

Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Social Perceptiveness
Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
Service Orientation
Actively looking for ways to help people.
Active Listening
Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.