Lifeguard Requirements

The Fair Labor Standards Act permits employers to hire minors 15 years of age and older as lifeguards. However, it limits the type of lifeguarding activities a 15-year-old may perform. 

The limitations on lifeguard activities of 15-year-olds are discussed below.

Provided they secure the pre-requisites needed, 15-year-olds may perform lifeguard activities at traditional swimming pools and water amusement parks.

He must have a lifeguard certification and lifeguard training from the American Red Cross or other certifying organizations in aquatics and water safety.

This ensures that they can also execute crucial lifesaving techniques.

Lifeguard activities at water amusement parks are limited to wave pools, lazy rivers, specialized activity areas that may include waterfalls and sprinkler areas, baby pools, and similar swimming or water activity areas.

This helps promote a culture of swim safety and facility safety.

Also, as part of additional safety precautions, 15-year-olds may not work on the elevated areas of power-driven water slides, either at traditional swimming pools or water amusement parks. 

They may be stationed, however, at the splashdown pools at the bottom of power-driven water slides. 

Natural environment facilities such as rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, quarries, reservoirs, wharfs, piers, canals, and oceanside beaches do not fall within the definition of either traditional swimming pool or water amusement parks.

Therefore, 15-year-olds may not perform lifeguard activities, lifesaving skills, and other pertinent hands-on skills at any of those locations.

Permitted lifeguard duties for 15-year-olds include:

  • Rescuing swimmers in danger of drowning
  • Monitoring activities at the poolside (neighborhood pool or indoor pools) to prevent accidents
  • Teaching water safety as part of lifeguarding services
  • Providing assistance to patrons
  • Maintaining order and cleanliness in the pool and pool areas
  • Giving swimming instruction (if certified by the American Red Cross, American Aquatics and Safety Training, or other certifying organization as a swim instructor)
  • Conducting or officiating swimming meets
  • Administering first aid
  • Checking in and out items such as towels and personal items
  • Using ladders to access and descend from lifeguard chairs
  • Using hand tools to clean the pool and pool area
  • Testing and recording water quality for temperature and pH levels, including using all the tools necessary in the testing process and adding chemicals to the water sample

Note that 15-year-old lifeguards may not operate or tend to power-driven equipment and enter or work in any mechanical room or chemical storage areas. These include areas where the filtration and chlorinating systems are housed.To see more information, check 29 CFR 570.34(l).


Age certification

Employers who employ minors are not in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act’s child labor laws if they keep on file unexpired certificates of age for each minor employed.

These papers show the minor is the appropriate age for the work being performed, even if the child turns out not to be the appropriate age.

For more information, visit our page on Age Certificates: 29 US Code 203(l)(2), 29 CFR 570.5(a), 29 CFR 570.38, and 29 CFR 570.121.

Minors Working as Lifeguards FAQs

 1. Is lifeguard employment for minors limited to 15-year-olds?

No, it is not. In fact, 16-year-old lifeguards and 17-year-olds can do the job for unlimited hours.

This is in line with the restriction of jobs stipulated by the Labor Secretary’s 17 Hazardous Occupations Orders.

2. Are there school rules for these minors’ employment as lifeguards?

Yes. They are allowed to work outside of school hours as long as a maximum of three hours on a school day is observed.

On a non-school day, a 15-year-old lifeguard can work for eight hours.

In terms of weekly hours, a maximum of 18 hours should be observed if there are school sessions, while they can work for 40 hours as long as the school is not in session.

There are time restrictions, too. They are to work no later than seven in the evening and not earlier than seven in the morning.

3. Are age certifications required for the employment of minors?

This varies from state to state.

The states that require such a certification, depending on the situation and for specific ages, include but are not limited to the following: Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Utah, Texas, and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, there are states that do not issue age certifications for minors; other states have no existing provisions at all.

The bottom line is that these can either be state-mandated or not, with some employers requesting certification that houses legal information about the age of the employee.


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