Lifeguarding was another one of the professions hit hard by the pandemic after gyms, waterparks, beaches, and community pools were forced to close down.
Demand for lifeguards is now higher than ever, but the pool of applicants just isn’t there.
Jocelyn Ramey has been lifeguarding for years and says, "I really value the first responder aspects and always being on my toes, as well as enforcing the rules and keeping our members safe."
She’s no stranger to busy days in the sun. But pools nationwide are trying to stay afloat with the staff they currently have as new applicants aren’t exactly diving in.
The American Lifeguard Association helps train and certify new lifeguards across the country. It says there are a few reasons for the shortage.
One of the reasons is lifeguard training and certification programs are backlogged because COVID-19 canceled classes. Secondly, travel restrictions have limited the number of seasonal college and foreign exchange students. Next, older lifeguards and swimming instructors are retiring early. Lastly, overall interest in the profession is declining.
Wyatt Werneth with the American Lifeguard Association says, "309,000 pools that we're trying to facilitate with the shortage here and this is a task trying to get these guys out, try to get them trained and get them ready to go. It's really kind of slowing things down for everyone getting back to normal,"
The lifeguard shortage in Phoenix is real, Flores says.
"The lifeguard shortage is very real, especially here in the Phoenix market because we're opening up all of our pools right now," she said.
Life Time is one of the largest employers of aquatic professionals with approximately 3,000-4,000 lifeguards nationwide. Typically they’ll have more than 10 million visits to their pools each summer.
To fill the need, they’re turning to social media to get the word out.
"We are doing a big marketing play via social media, and we're hoping to advertise some of the benefits of being a team member at Life Time including a complimentary membership, paid trainings, and best of all, they don't need any experience to be a team member with us, we'll teach you how to do everything," Flores explained.
If you want to become a lifeguard you will have to get certified first. It requires about 30 hours of training and you’ll have to take a swim test.
Most pool centers, like at Life Time, will even train you for free.