How Long Is Lifeguard Certification Valid?

We receive the question “how long is lifeguard certification valid” quite often and the answer is, it depends. There are three primary certifying agencies in the US for swimming pool lifeguards: the American Red Cross, StarGuard, and Ellis & Associates. American Red Cross certification is valid for 2 years from the last date of class, whereas StarGuard and Ellis certifications are valid for 1 year from the last date of the class.

How Long Is Lifeguard Certification Valid

Which lifeguard certification do I pick?

Most employers (pool management companies, YMCAs, municipal or institutional pools, or campgrounds) affiliate with one of these certifying agencies.  You will want to make sure you take the certification class accepted at your workplace. American Red Cross certification is the most widely recognized, meaning that the majority of aquatic facilities across the country use ARC certification. The YMCA and Boy Scouts of America also offer lifeguard certifications that are considered reciprocal to Red Cross, meaning that most employers who accept Red Cross, also accept YMCA and BSA certifications and vice versa.

Another important question to ask prior to taking a lifeguard class is who owns your certification. In most cases, if you pay for your certification, you own it, meaning you can take it with you and use it at other employers who recognize that type of certification.  Some employers offer free or discounted training, but there is usually a catch. In these cases, the certification is typically deemed “site-specific,” which means valid only at that employer. There are also some regional and specialty certifying agencies around the country.

Beware of certifying agencies offering “online-only” lifeguard certification.  These organizations do not have a method for verifying that their students can perform the rescue skills and CPR skills correctly.  They may try to evade this responsibility by suggesting that you can take their course and then pass a water skills test at your workplace.  However, most employers do not offer a water skills-only test without also taking the full class.  You will likely discover that you need to take a whole class over again, and there is no actual value to the online-only certification.

How does certification work at Sears Pool?

Sears Pool Management is a proud partner of the American Red Cross.  In order to maintain the quality of our training and the value of the certification we offer, we charge for our classes, and our employees own their certifications.  Many of our employees work for us during the summer months and then capitalize on their certifications by lifeguarding at YMCA, municipal, and college pools during the off-season.  We teach using the Red Cross blended learning format. Lifeguard candidates first take the 8-hour online portion at their pace.  Then they attend 2 days of class and pool time with our Red Cross certified instructors, who will teach them to successfully complete all skills before earning their American Red Cross lifeguard certification.

Questions?  Contact us, and we can help!

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