City of Albuquerque faces lifeguard shortage

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Outdoor pools in the Albuquerque metro are getting ready to open this Memorial Day but the city is facing a lifeguard shortage.

The City of Albuquerque needs a total of 300 lifeguards. Right now, though, there are only 200.

Josh Herbert, the manager of the city’s Aquatics Division, says this is an effect of the pandemic.

“We weren’t able to host in-person lifeguards or lifeguard training. So, lifeguard classes do have to be in person, you do have to demonstrate those skills. So we weren’t able to offer lifeguard classes for you know, a good six months,” Herbert said.

Across the county, in general, the National Lifeguard Association says a shortage of guards affects about a third of public pools across the country.

To get certified, you have to take a 20-hour course, at least in Albuquerque. The course is partially online but a lot of the time is spent at the pool.

Lifeguarding, though, isn’t just a summer job for teens. You can pick up some useful skills.

“Those who are going into the health field, want to be a nurse, doctor, EMT. Lifeguarding is the job for them because you can start off at 15 years old learning emergency response,” Herbert said.

Along with the experience, there are some incentives. If you work more than 25 hours a week, you’ll get a $500 bonus. The city is also working to increase pay to $13.50 an hour – a dollar more than in previous years.

“We plan on opening all of our pools. If we have a shortage of lifeguards, if we’re not able to staff, our pools, what we’re going to do is, adjust our hours if we have to,” Herbert explained.

If you’d like to apply to be a lifeguard, click here.