Lifeguard Certification

Gain the skills to save a life!

Red Cross Lifeguard Certification is a comprehensive course for ages 15 and up. It focuses on water rescue and safety and prepares lifeguards to anticipate and prevent dangers.

Participants must attend all classes and successfully pass exams to receive certification. Upon successful completion, participants are qualified to work at an aquatics facility as a certified lifeguard.

If you become a YMCA of WNC lifeguard, we'll refund your course fee. Our aquatics facilities hire ages 15 and up.  ​​​​​​

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Lifeguard certification

The Red Cross Lifeguard Blended Training Certification includes 19.5 hours of training in the pool or classroom, plus additional online learning of 7.5 hours for a total class time of about 27 hours.

The Red Cross Lifeguard Traditional in-person certification course includes about 26 hours of training in-person, encompassing both pool and classroom time.

Courses include:

  • Lifeguard training
  • CPR/AED certification
  • First aid certification
  • Emergency oxygen administration certification

Lifeguard course pretest:

  • You must be 15 years old on or before the final scheduled session of your course.
  • Swim 300 yards continuously demonstrating breath control and rhythmic breathing. Candidates may swim using the front crawl, breaststroke or a combination of both but swimming on the back or side is not allowed. Swim goggles may be used.
  • Tread water for 2 minutes using only the legs. Candidates should place their hands under the armpits.
  • Complete a timed event within 1 minute, 40 seconds.
    • Starting in the water, swim 20 yards. The face may be in or out of the water. Swim goggles are not allowed.
    • Surface dive, feet-first or head-first, to a depth of 7 to 10 feet to retrieve a 10-pound object.
    • Return to the surface and swim 20 yards on the back to return to the starting point with both hands holding the object and keeping the face at or near the surface so they can get a breath. Candidates should not swim the distance underwater. Exit the water without using a ladder or steps.


  • Tread water for two minutes.
  • Able to swim 300 yards continuously.
  • Able to surface dive to 8-10 feet depth of water and swim 15 feet underwater.
  • Able to carry a significant amount of weight to the side of the pool.
  • Able to exit pool and ascend lifeguard stand, both unassisted.

Ready to start?

Find a course here.

Job opportunities

Already a certified lifeguard? The Y is the perfect place to put those skills into action! We're always looking for qualified lifeguards to join the Y family. Apply today.