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How Much Does a American Lifeguard Course Typically Cost?

Have you ever wondered about pursuing a career as a lifeguard but hesitated because you weren’t sure of the associated costs? Becoming a certified lifeguard through an accredited training program does require an investment, but it’s an excellent way to gain valuable job skills and experience while helping to ensure public water safety. In this article, the American Lifeguard Association will guide you through the typical costs you can expect for a lifeguard certification course so there are no surprises.

Lifeguard Course Fees

Most lifeguard course offered through organizations like the American Lifeguard Association range anywhere from $150-$350 depending on the specific provider, location, and amenities included. At minimum, you can expect to pay around $150 for the basic coursework, CPR/AED/first aid certification, and required textbooks/workbook materials.

Larger metropolitan areas or programs utilizing more advanced training facilities may charge closer to the $300 range due to higher overhead costs. However, many organizations offer periodic discounts for early registration or courses scheduled during off-peak months when demand is lower. Scholarships may also be available in some cases to help cover fees.


In addition to the course fees, you’ll need to budget for any mandatory safety equipment required for certification. This usually includes items like swim fins, a professional whistle, and facemask which together typically cost between $50-$100 depending on the brand and retailer. The ALA provides students with recommended brand options and vendors to get properly fitting gear at fair prices.

Some programs may offer equipment rental packages that can reduce upfront costs if purchased gear won’t get ongoing use after certification. It’s always best to ask providers about equipment inclusion policies or rental costs ahead of registration to avoid surprises. Basic swimwear like a one-piece swimsuit is also required but likely already in your closet.

Additional Expenses

While the core certification course, materials, and equipment make up the bulk of expenses, plan for a few extra costs as well. You’ll need transportation to and from classes along with any class-specific supplies like a pocket-sized first aid guide or CPR mask that may run $20-30 combined.

Meals during full-day weekend courses also need accounting for. Some students budget an additional $50-75 for sufficient snacks, lunches, and drinks over the training period. Though it’s a small investment relative to the career skills you’ll gain. Don’t let these minor additional expenses deter you if lifeguarding interests you.

Total Cost Estimate

To summarize, a typical lifeguard certification course through a respected program like the American Lifeguard Association normally costs between $250-$450 once all required fees, materials, equipment, transportation, and other anticipated additional expenses are factored in.

This may seem like a significant amount up front, but it’s truly a small investment to launch a career in an in-demand field with opportunities locally and nationwide. In addition, most lifeguards earn $10-$14 per hour and can pick up shifts during peak seasons and events. So initial training costs pay off quickly.

The ALA and other providers work hard to keep certification affordable and accessible for all interested candidates. Discuss payment plan options if full costs are a challenge. But rest assured, becoming a lifeguard is well worth the initial financial commitment for a rewarding career helping others stay safe in the water.

Curriculum Overview

Now that you understand the typical cost ranges, let’s review what you can expect to learn during a lifeguard certification course through the American Lifeguard Association. Programs generally span 2-3 full weekend days or 5 weeknight evenings totaling around 30 classroom and in-water skills hours.

Day 1 – Classroom Introduction

The first day focuses on lifeguard roles and responsibilities with lectures covering topics like injury prevention, proper surveillance techniques, communication strategies, and incident response protocols. You’ll receive an overview of the entirety of skills and knowledge to be covered.

Day 2 – Water Rescue Skills

On the second day, classroom sessions delve deeper into water rescues and CPR/first aid knowledge. Then you’ll spend significant time in the water practicing search techniques, rescue entries, multiple victim extractions using rescue equipment, and proper spinal cord injury management.

Day 3 – Mock Rescue Scenarios

The final day evaluates you through live in-water rescue scenarios simulating real emergencies at an ALA-certified aquatic facility. Instructors assess your proficiency performing unassisted and assisted rescues along with demonstrating CPR and first aid protocols on high fidelity manikins.

Certification Testing

Upon successful completion of all in-class and in-water skills, a final cognitive exam covering the full curriculum is administered. Passing scores on all assessments earns the candidate full Ellis & Associates/American Lifeguard Association certifications valid for 2 years.

Scholarship and Financial Aid Options

As noted earlier, the investment required for a lifeguard certification course may seem daunting to some interested candidates. However, the ALA and other organizations offer solutions to help cover costs for those who qualify.

ALA Lifeguard Scholarship

The American Lifeguard Association provides up to ten $200 scholarships each year to help students pay for course fees. Applicants must submit a short essay sharing their interest in water safety and plans to utilize their certification. Winners are selected based on merit and financial need.

Payment Plans

For ALA courses, you can set up an interest-free payment plan to split costs over 3 monthly installments if needed. Just discuss options with your local instructor at least 2 weeks prior to class start. Several partner facilities also offer discounts for multiple family member enrollments.

High School Program Partnerships

Some high schools and colleges partner with the ALA to offer vouchers or discounted access to courses for their students. These programs aim to promote water safety awareness and equip students with additional career skills. Ask your school counselor if any such opportunities exist in your area.

Employer Sponsorships

Facilities hiring seasonal lifeguards like pools, waterparks and beach patrols may contribute to training costs for new hires. Many want their staff pre-certified and view it as a worthwhile recruitment and retention investment. Consider applying early for the upcoming season.

Community Scholarships

Beyond just the ALA, search online for additional local civic and nonprofit scholarships. Amounts can vary but even a couple hundred dollars helps. Demonstrate your volunteer experience and interest could lead to funding support.

The ALA is always here as a resource to guide students pursuing a certification through available financial assistance programs. Their goal is ensuring cost is never a true barrier that prevents someone passionate about water safety from joining the profession. With some research and planning, affordable paths can usually be found. Read more information click here.

In Final Words

While it requires dedication of time and resources, becoming a certified lifeguard opens doors to a meaningful career path that also offers flexibility for students and secondary income potential. The American Lifeguard Association and other accredited training organizations make the process accessible through validated, affordable courses accepted nationwide. I hope this overview of typical costs and curriculum breakdown has provided helpful context as you consider this highly rewarding public safety profession. Let me know if you have any other questions!

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