Few jobs bring more benefits to teens and young adults than being a Saanich swim instructor or lifeguard.
Whether as a stepping stone to a life-long career in recreation or as a part-time job that offers many transferable career and life skills, lifeguarding and instructing are ideal for those who enjoy spending time in and around the pool, and thrive in a role of responsibility.
While it’s safe to say that many of those working in advanced recreation roles had their start as an instructor or lifeguard, the array of mastered skills and responsibilities serve lifeguards and swim instructors well across the school and career spectrum.
While many lifeguards move on to medical or paramedical careers, for example, other skills include: emergency preparation; stress management; problem solving; community development; customer service; presentation skills; communication and teamwork; independence; and administration or clerical skills.
“Experience as a swim instructor, lifeguard, or team leader will build many transferable skills to other roles,” notes Wade Thoreson, a programmer at Gordon Head Recreation Centre. “These employees are leaders in water safety education and promote the importance of active healthy lifestyles, while creating a safe space for individuals to build social connections and communities.
“The nature of the job requires them to build relationships with patrons, staff, community user groups and to be proficient in problem solving. These employees are trained to work within a procedural approach, however, procedures don’t cover every situation, so they’re tasked with using their judgment, knowledge and skill to best solve problems or respond to emergency situations,” Wade explains.
The tangibles: Wages, schedules and work environment
Work at Saanich pools also brings immediate, tangible benefits, including a high hourly wage, enjoyable work environment and a flexible schedule.
“Lifeguarding is an extremely flexible job, which is very beneficial for students,” notes Paige Delong, programmer at Saanich Commonwealth Place. “Not only can it work around a weekly school or university schedule, it can also work seasonally for those leave town for school but return over the summer and holidays.”
One of the great things about working at the pool is the year-round opportunities for work, and – perfect for students – the demand for casual and on-call positions. (For a look at some of the opportunities, visit saanich.ca/careers.)
While the work is serious, the workplace culture is fun at Saanich Recreation. And the wage for lifeguards and instructors is a highly competitive $25.65 per hour plus 15 per cent in lieu of benefits for casual workers.
The seniority-based system means the more you work, the better shifts you get, with opportunities for advancement into team leader positions, and for permanent positions with comprehensive benefits packages.
“There are plenty of opportunities for growth in aquatics, from becoming a team leader to teaching advanced lifesaving courses, to opportunities in other areas of recreation such as fitness and programs for children,” Paige says. “You get to meet a variety of people from different backgrounds and make friends. We work together, train together, and participate in fun staff events such as dodgeball, swims and barbecues!”
How do I become a swim instructor or lifeguard?
Swim instructors and lifeguards with Saanich Recreation must have their Bronze Medallion (20 hours), Bronze Cross (20 hours) and Swim For Life Instructor or SI certification (32 to 40 hours). Lifeguards must have Standard First Aid (16 hours) and National Lifeguard or NL Pool option (44 hours), and for those working at Saanich Commonwealth Place, an additional National Lifeguard Water Park option (24 hours).
Those who wish to teach advanced at an advanced level have the option of additional certifications.
Beyond lifeguards and swim instructors, Saanich pools also offer opportunities for waterfit instructors. Those candidates must have Fitness Theory or Swim Instructor Certification, Greater Victoria Waterfit Instructor Program or training from any recognized accredited fitness training association.
Learn more in the Saanich Summer Activity guide. Visit saanich.ca/summer.