PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell today announced that any candidate 16 and older has until midnight on Monday, June 7 to register interest in working as a lifeguard at a City pool this summer.  The department urges anyone who can swim to consider signing up for free training and certification through Parks & Rec to earn $15.25 an hour as a first year lifeguard working at a City pool.

Since launching its recruitment effort on March 16, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation has identified 60% of the staff necessary to open all 68 outdoor pools this summer. The process to train, certify, and hire a candidate takes an average of 4 weeks. Successful candidates who begin the process by June 7 can expect to be working poolside by early July.

“Against the backdrop of a national lifeguard shortage and a pandemic, our water safety instructors have accomplished a Herculean task of training hundreds of lifeguards to work in City pools this summer,” said Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell. “Thanks to these efforts, and our amazing cadre of Parks & Rec lifeguards, we expect to be able to open a majority of City pools this year. The exact number of pools we open will reflect the total number of lifeguards hired and ready to work in the next four weeks.”

Recruitment during a pandemic

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 2021 lifeguard recruitment process looked very different for Parks & Rec:

  • The recruitment timeline: The department typically begins recruitment in November, and actively targets recertification classes to college students returning home for the winter break. This year, recruitment began in mid-March due to COVID-19 related restrictions

  • Pool access: Parks & Rec typically offers training and certification classes at multiple indoor pools year-round. This year, nearly all training took place in a single heated outdoor pool.

  • Capacity limits: Class sizes were limited due to COVID-19 protocols, and all applicants were required to pre-register for a training or screening time.

  • Skill building: Following a year or more out of the water due to the pandemic, most all candidates required an extra “brush up” period.

While seasonal employers across the region face reported labor shortages, Parks & Rec has employed a variety of new tactics to maximize interest in lifeguarding with the City. Efforts include:

  • Raised the starting pay to $15.25 / hour.
  • Paid the Red Cross certification fee to applications 16-24 years old.
  • Hosted virtual and in-person job fairs.
  • Attended virtual and in-person recruitment events.
  • Targeted social media advertising.
  • Engaged local schools and universities.
  • Door to door canvassing and a street team.
  • Partnership with iHeart Media/Power99.
  • Engaged other City agencies and City Council offices.

What it takes to be a lifeguard

If you can swim, Parks & Rec will train and hire you to become a lifeguard. A detailed list of requirements can be found at The first step for interested candidates is to register interest by Monday, June 7, and then brush up on swimming skills and prepare for the lifeguard screening.

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

Learn more and sign up today at:

Contact to register interest or ask questions.


Philadelphia Parks & Recreation (PPR) advances the prosperity of the city and the progress of its people through stewardship of nearly 10,200 acres of public land and waterways, and management of 500 recreation buildings, 166 miles of trail, and 250 playgrounds. PPR offers safe, enjoyable recreation, environmental and cultural programs and events throughout Philadelphia’s parks and recreation system. PPR promotes the well-being and growth of the city’s residents by connecting them to the natural world, to each other and to fun, physical and social opportunities. In 2017, Philadelphia Parks & Recreation Commissioner Kathryn Ott Lovell, set about implementing the park system’s first strategic plan: Our Path to 2020 and Beyond. As a result, PPR is undertaking a period of historic change, setting the department on a course to become a modern, equitable and exceptional parks and recreation system. Visit us at, and follow @philaparkandrec on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.