Side Hustle Series: I’m a Lifeguard

lifeguard lego chick
(Guest Post by Rachel)

I love having a side hustle. It’s where I get my beer money, coffee money, I-absolutely-need-to-buy- that-shirt money. It’s not glamorous, but I’m OK with that. I’m a lifeguard. It’s not just for high schoolers with sun screen on their noses.

I’ve been a lifeguard since I worked at a summer camp back in the day. When I went to college, I decided that if lifeguarding was a good way to spend my summer, it would be a good part time during my semester. Before I knew it, lifeguarding paid for my college degree. And now that I’m a grown-up (?) with a 9-5, you’ll find me at the pool a couple mornings a week before I start my “real job.”

Cons of Lifeguarding:

  • It’s not exciting. At all. You sit there and/or pace around a pool deck watching people swim laps for a few hours at a time.
  • The hourly pay doesn’t compare with the tips that one could make waitressing or bar tending.

Pros of Lifeguarding:

  • Flexible shifts — I can work a whole shift before I have to be to the office by 9 am. I could also work just evenings or just weekends, if I so desired.
  • Free gym membership — This one is the most motivating for me, and makes the not-so-amazing hourly wage much better. Not only am I making a bit of extra money, but I’m not spending any of my hard-earned money on a gym membership. If I had a family, this benefit would apply to them as well.
  • Childcare provided — not something that I need to take advantage of, but it’s there if I would need it.
  • Extremely discounted classes — yoga, pilates, spin, toning– all for half of what gym members pay. Plus, I get free access to the gym, pool, and climbing wall.

For me, the pros definitely out-weigh the cons. And that’s why I stick with it.

Interested in working at a gym? Many gyms offer similar benefits to their employees, and they have many different positions that they need to fill. Willing to man the front desk on Saturday morning? Could you coach a youth sports team? Teach a class? If you’re looking for a side hustle, check out your local gym to see if they’re hiring!

Guest Post by Rachel, who blogs about her active life and her pursuit of balance and moderation at her site, Balance and Blueberries.

If you’ve got a side hustle you’d like to share with us, give J$ a shout!
(Photo by pasukaru76)

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  1. cashflowmantra June 9, 2011 at 8:35 AM

    Being a lifeguard is not a bad gig. My daughter is doing it this summer. How many hours are you able to get in before 9 am? Is this a 24 hour pool?

  2. Emily June 9, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    This is a great idea! Another good side-hustle job is freelancing writing/editing.

  3. No Debt MBA June 9, 2011 at 8:48 AM

    A free gym membership can be a really big perk with the right gym and city. Do gyms do lifeguard training or are there enough people already trained that they don’t have to?

  4. Kevin @ June 9, 2011 at 9:48 AM

    I was a lifeguard in college. If I ever become a full time blogger, I’d probably also become a part time lifeguard.

  5. NancyO June 9, 2011 at 10:21 AM

    @ No Debt MBA. You take the training then get the job. Check you local red cross’ website.

    I’m 27 y/o work a regular office job .. and just got recertified in a class full of 15 year olds. ha. I was actually thinking of submitting my side income since I haven’t heard from adzookie. haha

    I’m working at a university pool for 4/hours a week. It’s not crazy side income BUT I do love the perk of a having an awesome gym. It decreases my budget to make it more sexy ;)

    The pool I work at is an Olympics size pool and it gives you access to the university gym ($60), the neighborhood JCC, the pool, and the master swimming league ($60). I currently stash away $25/month to 24 Hour Fitness, which I hate and therefore never go. I’ve been spending $25 on a gym that I go to maybe once a month. Now, I get paid and get a free gym membership. It’s a win – win for my budget

    There’s also opportunity to make side – income lifeguarding cash by offering up your lifeguard services at duathlon and triathlons. It’s usually a volunteer “stipend” position that around pay $15/hr cash.

    I like side hustle lifeguarding because it’s a relative easy job with low investment ($200-300 for the course), it decreases my gym expenses and I get a little cash on the side ($12/hr).

    I also like it because the hours are easy to fit in your schedule. I really enjoy my 10-11pm bedtime and I don’t think I would have the energy to do a part-time job that infringes on my sleep. you know?

  6. Crystal June 9, 2011 at 11:44 AM

    $12 an hour is great for a side hustle! Congrats and enjoy that gym membership!

  7. Little House June 9, 2011 at 12:29 PM

    That’s a great idea! Too bad I’m not a strong swimmer. ;)

  8. Rachel @Balance and Blueberries June 9, 2011 at 1:33 PM

    @cashflowmantra: The pool I work at is indoors, so they are open at 5 am for early morning lap swimmers.

    @No Debt MBA: It depends on the gym. Most YMCAs will offer lifeguard training. You can always call your local red cross. They’re usually in the know for what’s around your area.

    @ NancyO: I’m going to have to recert this fall, and I have a feeling I’ll be in a class of 15 year olds, too!

  9. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager June 9, 2011 at 7:13 PM

    I lifeguard all through high school and college and loved it! Another pro: You gain life saving skills and how to say cool and confident under pressure.

  10. Aspiring Millionaire June 10, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    This is a great idea. I know of a few people who have done this and the pros far outweigh the cons. It is a great incentive to keep fit as well.

    Thanks for sharing.

  11. South County Girl June 10, 2011 at 10:20 PM

    I lifeguard as part of my real money making gig… and I love the free gym membership.

    If I ever taught as a teacher and had summers off i’d so get a lifeguard gig a few days a week at a pool for extra cash.
    It also helps that i’m a Red Cross Lifeguard instructor and can re-certify and teach classes as well.

    If need be, I can always Side Hustle and teach CPR and First Aid courses. I just haven’t yet because of time and the start up costs. I’ve have to invest a bit of money on equipments… about $800-$1200

  12. Rachel @Balance and Blueberries June 11, 2011 at 9:39 AM

    @ Southern Country Girl–I would love to be LGI certified. Also, great idea to use it during the summers (if you had those off)! I might have to steal that one at some point in my life.

  13. Kelly June 11, 2011 at 8:23 PM

    I used to be a lifeguard in high school/college, but I slowly started to phase it out after I seriously saved a 5 year old that couldn’t swim and the dad yelled at me for not realizing earlier that the girl can’t swim- um she’s five perhaps you should’ve been watching her. Anyway, now I’m a teacher and this kind of thing would not surprise me at all BUT I think I kind of realized how much responsibility there is in being a lifeguard that I wasn’t really paying attention to. Sure, most of the time you just sit there but what if something happens? Okay I’m a bit too paranoid I suppose.

  14. J. Money June 12, 2011 at 3:38 PM

    I know, I’d be scared for myself (and those I was “watching”) too! I have major A.D.D. and fear I’d space out on the times I was most needed ;) But then again maybe if I knew how important it was I’d learn to concentrate more?? Or drink tons more coffee? Haha, who knows… either way, I still want to try it real bad and see what happens :) I’ve been hitting up the pool every other day here at lunch time and keep running into those lifeguards! They sure like to chit chat too, they’re like a clan. So I guess you can add “meeting new friends” to that list too ;)

    Thx again for guest posting for us Rachel, was fun learning more!

  15. Kathryn C June 13, 2011 at 9:31 AM

    I use to wear lee press on nails for the ocean swims when I was a junior life guard during the summer here in southern california, it’s a life guard training program (I never made it to being a life guard though). I wore the lee press on nails because I thought they would help me swim faster. I’m not joshing you.

  16. J. Money June 13, 2011 at 9:57 AM

    Ahahahahhaa… you are too much over there :) That is awesome.

  17. Andre j April 12, 2017 at 12:57 AM

    Most guys who take lifeguard duty, its not about the money. For most guys, the biggest perk is (if you take the job and you’ve put some considerable time at the gym) lifeguarding is almost always the quickest way to get all the pretty girls. It’s true. Trust me on this!

    1. J. Money April 12, 2017 at 10:18 AM

      HAH! I bet!