Shortage of lifeguards hits beaches hard around U.S.

Patrick Whittle
Associated Press

Georgetown, Maine — Cities, states and private beach owners are scrambling to fill lifeguard positions around the country as summer kicks off, especially in states where lifeguarding is a seasonal enterprise.

Tom Gill, a spokesman for the United States Lifesaving Association, says there are likely between 30,000 and 50,000 lifeguards at beaches in the U.S., and more are needed.

The need is more acute in states where beaches are only open in the summer. Officials in states such as Maine say they face a shortage as July 4 nears.

Another issue in retaining seasonal lifeguards is that many of them aren’t well compensated despite requiring training.

The average pay for a lifeguard is about $9 an hour. Full-time lifeguards in some West Coast cities earn more than $100,000 per year.