Summer job? City of Austin, local pools look to address lifeguard shortage as reopening preparations move forward


AUSTIN (KXAN) — City of Austin officials are hoping to fill hundreds of open positions for lifeguards as the summer season approaches.

A City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department spokeswoman says they set a goal of hiring 750 lifeguards. At last check they were only at 150, which means they’re only 20 percent of the way to be able to operate at full capacity for pools across the city.

“We’re doing everything we can to get the word out about hiring,” says Kanya Lyons, Media and Public Information Specialist for Austin’s Parks and Recreation Department. Lyons explained the hiring freeze they had for a whole year impacted the lack, but wasn’t needed so much since pools were at modified operations.

The situation is similar at membership-only pools like Life Time Fitness in South Austin.

“We’re experiencing a little bit of a shortage for the summer season right now,” says Madi O’Campo, the Aquatics Manager at Life Time’s location just off Mopac near William Cannon Drive. “We’re not getting the typical applicants trained for this time of year.”

She thinks it’s because as the state moves toward reopening even more, jobs are in high demand.

Man swims at Life Time’s indoor pool located in South Austin. (KXAN Photo: Richie Bowes)

While they have been able to reach a team of 30 full time lifeguards, they’re hoping to add another 20 to their team for the busy summer ahead just at their south location.

“Being a summer lifeguard, it’s still the best job I’ve ever had,” says O’Campo, who started as a lifeguard for the City of Austin at Barton Springs. “You get that summer training, you learn the rescue, the CPR Skills, the first aid skills and that can be applied outside of work for the rest of your life.”

No experience is necessary to apply at Life Time. “You just need to be able to swim 300 yards, it’s just six laps around the pool,” says O’Campo. Training includes video modules, and in person first aid, water rescue and CPR skills.

Lifeguard positions with the city of Austin work similarly:

  • Jobs start at $15 per hour.
  • Applicants must be 15 years of age or older. 
  • Applicants must complete training and certification to be hired.
  • New and returning lifeguards must complete the application and hiring paperwork before they can register for training.

As more lifeguards are hired, city officials hope to be able to reopen more pools. “As we hire, we will try to scale up and reopen,” says Lyons, adding that more information about openings across the city will be released Thursday.

Find more information about applying to be a lifeguard for the City of Austin on their website.

Life Time Fitness’ lifeguard application is online as well.

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