An individual who wishes to become a non-surf lifeguard must be at least 15 years old, be able to pass specific swimming requirements and complete a qualified training course, such as the American Red Cross Lifeguarding program. The swimming prerequisites need to be met before beginning the training, and certification is awarded upon completion. Additional training is required for surf or waterfront lifeguarding.
The swimming requirements for the American Red Cross Lifeguarding program include the ability to swim a continuous distance of 300 yards while demonstrating rhythmic breathing and breath control, tread water for 2 minutes with hands under the armpits while using the legs only and complete a 1-minute, 40-second timed event that ends in exiting the water without the use of steps or a ladder. The American Red Cross program includes training in first aid, rescue and surveillance, CPR, automated external defibrillator(AED) use and teamwork.
Lifeguard certification can also be obtained from several other nationally recognized organizations. Specialized training for open water surf lifeguarding is provided by the United States Lifesaving Association.