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Pool Supervisor/Lifeguard

Pool supervisors are responsible for the safety of people at swimming pools and other aquatic facilities, while lifeguards patrol beaches.


Tasks & duties

Pool supervisors and lifeguards may do some or all of the following:

  • supervise swimmers
  • prevent accidents by identifying risks to swimmers, and reducing or eliminating these risks
  • make sure people behave appropriately in and near the sea or swimming pool
  • respond quickly to emergency rescue situations
  • administer first aid or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in emergencies
  • help swimmers and answer their questions
  • regularly test and treat water at pools
  • give people advice on swimming techniques
  • maintain and clean equipment and facilities
  • liaise with contractors concerning maintenance or repair work
  • help prepare aquatic health and fitness programmes

Surf lifeguards also have to check the surf for rip currents or holes, and put flags out on the beaches to indicate safe places to swim.


Skills & knowledge

Pool supervisors and lifeguards need to have:

  • strong swimming abilities
  • an awareness of how to identify the signs that a swimmer is in difficulty
  • expertise in techniques for rescuing people who are in difficulty in the water
  • knowledge of how to administer first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • understanding of beach and swimming pool safety rules and regulations
  • good communication skills
  • planning and organisational ability
  • good customer service skills

Pool supervisors also need to know about water treatment, and how to monitor pool chlorine and water quality levels.

Surf lifeguards also need to know how to use communication equipment such as two-way radios, and may also need to know how to use rescue boats and boards.


Entry requirements

To become a pool supervisor you must be at least 16 years old and have a first aid certificate and the National Pool Lifeguard Award.

To become a surf lifeguard you need to be at least 14 years old and must pass the New Zealand Surf Lifeguard Award exam. This includes modules in swimming skills, resuscitation, rescue, surf knowledge and theory. You must resit the exam every two years.


Secondary education

There are no specific secondary educational requirements for pool supervisors and lifeguards. However, Sixth Form Certificate or NCEA Level 2 biology, science, physical education and/or English is preferred.


Tertiary education

A tertiary qualification in exercise science, physical education or recreation and leisure studies is useful.


Training on the job

Pool supervisors and lifeguards gain many skills on the job. They may also get training in:

  • customer service
  • health and safety
  • emergency procedures and advanced first aid
  • use of rescue equipment
  • water treatment
  • management



Surf lifeguards must join their local Surf Life Saving New Zealand Club.


Useful experience

Useful experience for pool supervisors and lifeguards includes:

  • surf life-saving experience
  • competitive swimming and sports training
  • any recreation work or experience dealing with the public


Related courses

Sport and Recreation Activities


For more information, please refer to Career Services.

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