There are only a few weeks of summer left!

As you take your kids to the pool or the beach a few more times this year, you’ll most likely run into at least one familiar face – a tanned teenager or college student donning red and white lifeguard apparel.

Lifeguards play an important role in keeping your family safe and sound during their time spent by the water this summer.

But lifeguards are important for another reason: it’s a great first job for thousands of young people entering the workforce.

Unfortunately, external barriers and regulations are making it difficult for many teens and college students to become lifeguards. The process of becoming a lifeguard is more cumbersome than ever before.

According to the official website of the Red Cross, Red Cross lifeguards are held to standards under the guidance of the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council.

Sounds easy enough, right?

Well, it is a bit complicated. The council has different requirements depending on what state you live in and the type of body of water you’ll be working at. Prospective lifeguards must:

  • Be 15 years old by the start date of the lifeguard course.
  • Pass a swimming test.
  • Take 25 hours of in-person training OR
  • Take a class with 19 hours of in-person training and 7 hours of online instruction.

Depending on the location, training can cost anywhere between $200 and $395. For many young Americans looking to get their start in the working world, these class fees might seem daunting.

If prospective lifeguards receive less than an 80 percent on the test that follows the class instruction, they will be required to fork over a few hundred more dollars to retake it.

While it is important that we ensure our lifeguards pass all the necessary tests and certifications to ensure they are trained to save lives, the costs of these certifications can drown out opportunities for many young people who are looking to enter and contribute to the workforce.

This is just one of many examples of how external barriers can limit opportunity and prevent hard-working individuals from pursuing the jobs they are passionate about.