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Photograph: Courtesy Daniel Avila

How to become a lifeguard at a NYC public pool or beach

The qualifying tests are no easy feats.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan

Although we're in the midst of the holiday period, we're delighted to report that lifeguard recruitment sessions for the summer 2023 beach and outdoor pool season in NYC are kicking off. Given the fact that the city suffered from a dearth of lifeguards last year, we're here to urge you to start thinking about potentially enrolling sooner rather than later!

To become an NYC lifeguard, you will first have to take a qualifying test, which takes place at one of the city’s indoor pools over the winter.

How do you pass the NYC lifeguard tryouts?

To pass the tryouts, which encompass both a swim and a vision exam, you have to be at least 16 years old by the start of employment, be able to swim 50 yards in 35 seconds or less with proper form, have at least 20/30 vision in one eye and 20/40 in the other without the use of contact lenses. Fair warning: contacts and glasses cannot be worn during the eye exam.

What training do you need to become an NYC lifeguard?

If you do pass the qualifying tests, you'll embark on a 16-week program that includes 40 hours of training, a CPR course and a last round of swimming tests, after which you may be offered a full-time job for the summer working at either a public pool or beach. As a reminder, the city's beaches open on Memorial Day weekend and outdoor pools start welcoming guests in late June. Both destinations close the Sunday after Labor Day.

What do NYC lifeguards get paid?

As for the pay, this past summer, mayor Eric Adams announced a deal with the lifeguard union by which starting wages increased by 22% from $16 an hour to $19.46 an hour. That includes a retention bonus of $1,000 for lifeguards who work every week of the season. Folks who complete the course and pass the final exam and background check will also be paid for time spent in training once they start working. That’s not a bad summer job, if you ask us.

You can register for the qualifying lifeguard test right here and get your summer plans rolling.

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