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Become a Lifeguard and Swim Instructor

Whether you’re a teen thinking about your first job or an adult looking for a new challenge, working as a lifeguard or swim instructor can be rewarding.

Be the spark.

Getting Started

The first step for anyone interested in working in aquatics is to take a series of courses to certify you to work as a lifeguard or swim instructor. You’ll be able to work at the YMCA and other organizations that recognize your Lifesaving Society credentials.

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Steps to Become a Lifeguard

To become a lifeguard in the GTA you must be at least 15 years old and have the following certifications:

Bronze Star (10 Hours)

In this course, children under 13 develop swimming proficiency, lifesaving skills, and personal fitness. Candidates will refine their stroke mechanics, gain self-rescue skills, and apply fitness principles in training workouts. Bronze Star is excellent preparation for success in Bronze Medallion and provides a fun introduction to lifesaving sport. It is intended for children under 13. 

Prerequisite: None (Swim Patrol experience recommended).

Bronze Medallion (15 Hours)

In this course, candidates are challenged mentally and physically. The four components of water rescue - judgment, knowledge, skill, and fitness – form the basis of Bronze Medallion training. Candidates acquire the assessment and problem-solving skills needed to make good decisions in, on, and around the water. Bronze Medallion is a prerequisite for assistant lifeguard training in Bronze Cross.

Prerequisite: A minimum age of 13 or Bronze Star certification (need not be current).

Bronze Cross (20 Hours)

In this course, candidates begin the transition from lifesaving to lifeguarding. The course prepares candidates to be an assistant lifeguard. Candidates strengthen and expand their lifesaving skills and begin to apply the principles and techniques of active surveillance in aquatic facilities. Bronze Cross emphasizes the importance of teamwork and communication in preventing and responding to aquatic emergencies. Bronze Cross is a prerequisite for advanced training in the Society’s National Lifeguard and leadership certification programs.

Prerequisite: Bronze Medallion and Lifesaving Society Emergency or Standard First Aid certifications (need not be current) or Emergency First Aid or Standard First Aid from one of these approved agencies.

National Lifeguard (40 Hours)

National Lifeguard is a legal certificate for lifeguarding across the country and is recognized by the province of Ontario for lifeguarding public swimming pools. National Lifeguard is recognized as the waterfront supervisory certification for Ontario Recreational Camp Regulation 503/17. National Lifeguard certification options include Pool, Waterpark, Waterfront, and Surf. The National Lifeguard Award Guide details the curriculum requirements and performance standards for National Lifeguard instructors and candidates.

Prerequisites: A minimum age of 15, Bronze Cross, and Lifesaving Society Standard First Aid (need not be current) or Standard First Aid from one of these approved agencies. National Lifeguard Pool certification is a prerequisite for the Waterpark option and National Lifeguard Waterfront is a prerequisite for the Surf option.


Work in Aquatics at the YMCA

Would you like to join a positive and supportive aquatics team?  We are hiring swim instructors and lifeguards at most of our 11 locations across the GTA. Apply today and get awesome support and training, plus a FREE Fitness Membership when you join the team.

Meet Our Aquatics Alumni

We want to introduce you to some real-life "superheroes" who got their start working at the Y as lifeguards and swim instructors. When asked how the experience shaped their careers they all said it was important for them to give back to their community. Working as a lifeguard and swim instructor gave them the leadership and influencing skills that have made our aquatics alumni the leaders they are today.

Jason Byles

Jason Byles
YMCA Aquatics Alumni

From the swimming pool to the firehall, former YMCA lifeguard and swim instructor Jason Byles has always been passionate about helping others. A lot of what he learned working at the Y is still helpful in his daily life as a City of Toronto Firefighter. Being a Y lifeguard and swim instructor gave Jason the confidence to be ready for anything as a firefighter today. 

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Leanne Marshall

Leanne Marshall
Senior Director Aquatics, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Leanne works at the Oshawa YMCA and is so grateful that her parents insisted she complete her Bronze Medallion and Bronze Cross at 13. She started at the Y as a part-time swimming instructor when she was 17, and now she's an aquatics leader at the Y. She works with young people every day, helping to shape their futures. Leanne says working in aquatics has given her self-confidence and leadership skills she which she can apply on the job and at home.

Narayan Persaud

Narayan Persaud
Director of Aquatics and Children's Programs, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Narayan got his first part-time job as a lifeguard when he was 16, then started working at the Y when he was 18. That kickstarted his career in aquatics. His main role today is as a trainer and coach helping people advance in the field of Aquatics. He also assesses programs and adapts them to meet the needs of the community. Narayan says working in aquatics has given him the skills to be a positive role model and leader for children and youth.