Parks & Rec Boosts Lifeguard Pay to $15.25 to Ensure City Pools Will Open

Councilmembers Bobby Henon, Mark Squilla, and Isaiah Thomas.  Photo: Joe O’Connor/Philadelphia Parks & Recreation.

City of Philadelphia

Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell joined Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa, Office of Children and Families, and members of City Council to announce a 51 cent pay increase for first year City lifeguards. The starting pay for rookie lifeguards will be $15.25 an hour, with returning guards earning up to $17.47 an hour. The pay boost will support ongoing recruitment efforts to ensure City pools are staffed to safely open this summer. 

The news was announced at a press conference with Councilmembers Bobby Henon, Mark Squilla, and Isaiah Thomas at Samuel Rec Center on Thursday. Councilmembers Henon and Thomas demonstrated the lifeguard screening test by successfully retrieving a 10lb brick from the deep end of the pool. The exercise simulates a rescue situation, testing swimmers’ strength and stamina.

The demonstration by members of City Council emphasizes that anyone who can swim can train to become a City lifeguard, with the support of the free training offered by Parks & Rec aquatics staff.

The lifeguard certification is free for applicants ages 16-24 who commit to working at a City pool. The Red Cross lifeguard certification free is $110 for all other candidates.  

Parks & Rec aims to hire between 350-400 lifeguards this summer to open 68 outdoor pools. A detailed list of requirements can be found at The first step for interested candidates is to brush up on swimming skills, and prepare for the lifeguard screening.

“Being a lifeguard is not just a great summer job. It’s also an incredible way for Philadelphians to give back to their community and to regain a sense of normalcy after this past year,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “From retirees and school teachers to teens and young adults, anyone can be a lifeguard and help make this a summer to remember for Philly kids.”

“Public pools are an important part of a Philly summer,” said Deputy Mayor Cynthia Figueroa. “This year we are raising the starting pay for lifeguards to $15.25 an hour to make sure our pools are well staffed and ready to welcome families back.” 

“Our public pools are the most cherished part of summer for Philadelphians,” said Councilmember Bobby Henon. “I applaud anyone who takes the plunge this year and chooses to spend their summer lifeguarding at City pools.”

“Learning to swim is a life lesson, and a life saving lesson,” said Councilmember Mark Squilla. “Our City lifeguards are heroes. They save lives on the pool deck and in the shallow end teaching the next generation how to swim.”

“Our recreation centers and pools are great places for safe and enriching fun for all,” said Councilmember Isaiah Thomas. “With the Lifeguarding program, we not only get families in pools but we create jobs for young people. Wherever you are in the city – you have a shot at a job for the summer or a relaxing dip in the pool.”

Candidates interested in brushing up their swimming skills or completing the lifeguard screening must register in advance. Due to COVID-19 health and safety protocols, space is limited. 

Learn more and apply today at:

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