The Hiring Process

STEP 1 – TRAIN FOR THE EXAMINATION.  Lifeguards recommend a minimum of six months training time prior to the exam.  Contact your local aquatic professional about a training program specific to the L.A. County Ocean Lifeguard Candidate Examination.  List of Municipal Pools.

STEP 2 – READ THE LA County Job Bulletin.  Fill out and submit an Application with LA County DHR and complete a Swim Certificate signed by a Pool Manager, Lifeguard, Swim Coach or aquatic professional.  A Swim Certificate verifies that you can swim 1,000 yards non-stop in a pool prior to the Ocean Lifeguard Candidate Examination.  Both must be submitted together before the deadline.

STEP 3 – TAKE THE EXAMINATION. Candidates attend a 1,000 meter ocean swim. Course Map.  Required swim caps will be issued the day of the swim.  No goggles, wetsuits, insulation, flotation or propulsion equipment are allowed.  The first 60 to 120 finishers (numbers based on departmental need) are handed a popsical stick at the finish line.  After the swim, qualifying applicants will be given an interview which consists of a series of questions designed to judge a candidates potential to become a quality Ocean Lifeguard.  Background, experience, and character are all taken into account.  Bring a swim suit, towel, warm clothes, food, water and business attire to wear at the interview.

STEP 4 – PASS THE BACKGROUND CHECK & PHYSICAL EXAM. The LA County Fire Department does a thorough background check of all prospective employees.  After passing the background check, each Candidate is scheduled for a detailed physical examination at an LA County affiliated medical office.  Physicals include vision, hearing, strength, flexibility, and fitness testing.

STEP 5 – GRADUATE THE LIFEGUARD TRAINING ACADEMY.  A rigorous 100 hour training course held over five consecutive weekends in the Spring.  Candidates are taught the principles of Lifeguarding with an emphasis on Ocean Dynamics, Rescues, First-Aid, Rescue Boat Operations, Communications, Public Relations as well as specific department policies and procedures.


The Application & Filing for 2016 is closed. Fill out an Interest Card using the link below to stay informed of future job postings.

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Hiring FAQ's

What are the minimum requirements to apply to become an L.A. County Lifeguard?

The requirements:

  1. Must be 18 years old by the FIRST day of Academy (May 1st 2017)
  2. Have a High School diploma or GED certificate
  3. Must have a valid CA Drivers license

How do I apply?

You can sign up to become an L.A. County Lifeguard only through the Jobs Bulletins website.

The L.A. County Lifeguard Job Bulletin usually posts at the end of summer in August or September (This is subject to change).  For the latest Info follow us on our social media or sign up for our recruitment list (bottom of page) to be emailed when the bulletin is posted.

For more information on job bulletins on the Website click HERE.

What is the swim certificate form and where can I get one?

The swim certificate is a signed form that ensures that you can swim 1000 meters continuously in a pool before attempting our 1000 meter ocean swim exam. The swim certificate can be printed here and either mailed in or submitted online with the application.

*The swim certificate must be signed by a pool manager, lifeguard, swim coach, or other aquatic professional. A 1000 meter swim time must be entered for each applicant.

Who are we looking for?

The LA County Lifeguards have a long standing tradition of being one of the top ocean lifeguarding agencies in the world. We are looking for quality individuals with a strong aquatic background (swimming, surfing, etc.) to continue this tradition.

Great candidates will posses the qualities displayed in our LA County Fire Department Core values:

Integrity, Teamwork, Community, Commitment, Courage, Caring

What should I do to prepare for the Candidate Swim Exam?

The best way to prepare for our 1000 meter ocean swim exam is to train with a masters, school or club swim team. At the very  least, swimming 3-5 days a week on your own is advised. The test is very competitive, so try to be in the best swimming shape possible. Ocean swimming can be different than pool swimming, so practicing in the ocean is also a must. Talk to lifeguards before you got out to find out about ocean conditions and any possible hazards. Also ask working L.A. county Lifeguards for tips as they have all started with passing that same swim exam.

What does the Candidate Swim Exam consist of?

Our swim exam consists of a 1000 meter ocean swim. All applicants line up at the starting line and are started all together. They enter the water, swim out 100 meters, make a quarter turn around a floating marker and continue swimming parallel to shore for 800 meters, then around another marker and 100 meters in to a finish line in the sand. About 300 applicants try out each year, and the first 100 or so (more or less depending on department need) are taken to the next step, which is the oral interview.

What is the cut- off time for the swim exam?

Times vary year to year depending on ocean conditions. In years that there is a large swell or very cold water, times will generally be slower than years with no surf and warm water. Previous standard times for an ocean swim of this length have been as short as 12 minutes and as long as 30 minutes. For this reason, top finishers are determined by place rather than by time. A predetermined number of swimmers (based on departmental need) advance to the next step of the process which is an interview.

What equipment is acceptable to wear for the swim exam?

Swim Attire ny FINA approved or standard swim suit (ie. Speedo, Jammers, swim trunks, women’s two piece/ one piece swimsuit etc.). You will also be given a swim cap provided by LA County. A swimsuit and swim cap are the only things that can be worn for the swim exam. Wetsuits, fins, goggles, or any other type of insulation, flotation, or propulsion equipment will not be allowed for the test.

What happens after the swim test?

If you are among the top finishers selected, you will be given an interview time for the same day as the swim. The dress code for the interview is business attire. After successfully completing the interview, candidates must pass a thorough background check and a detailed physical exam given by an LA County affiliated medical office. After passing all of these stages, you will receive an invitation to attend our Lifeguard Training Academy.

What opportunities are available to a new hire?

Peak summer season is from the last week in June to through the first week in September. After completing the Lifeguard Training Academy, candidates become Recurrent Lifeguards, and have the option to work a summer schedule or to be available to work on a day by day basis. Recurrent lifeguards must work a minimum of 20 shifts per year. Summer schedules are full time, 5 days a week, 40 hours, with possible overtime. During the rest of the year, recurrent lifeguards can make themselves available to work on an as- needed basis. Weather, ocean conditions, and special events determine the amount of lifeguards hired each day. The LA County Lifeguard hiring list is compiled by seniority. After working as a recurrent lifeguard and gaining experience, individuals can test to become an Ocean Lifeguard Specialist, which is a full time year round position.