DES MOINES, Iowa -- Opening day at the swimming pool is one of the surest signs of summer, but without lifeguards that day can’t arrive. This was an issue last summer as many pools in the metro had a hard time finding life guarding staff. This summer any pools in the metro are scheduled to open on time in the next two weeks. A lot of them are fully staffed with lifeguards because they raised wages and offered incentives. The city of Des Moines did the same, but they are still looking for life guarding staff.
“It’s a lot different now, the extra-curricular activities, McDonald’s pays a higher wage than what a lifeguard pays so we’re up against that,” Des Moines Parks and Recreation Marketing Supervisor Jen Fletcher said.
This year, Des Moines Parks and Recreation raised lifeguard’s pay to $9.50 an hour to compete with other summer jobs. They are still looking to fill around 30 lifeguard positions for their five pools.
They say people may not have applied in the past because of the required $150 lifeguard certification course so as an incentive they will pay for employees to take that course.
Ames Parks and Recreation also struggled to find lifeguards last summer, causing them to close parts of the pool. They implemented similar incentives this summer and now they are fully staffed before even opening.
“We’ve got some exciting things that we’re focusing on for this year so it’s nice that we’re not concerned about getting staff and we can really take our time with the staff and enjoy this training process and get them going to be open,” City of Ames Aquatics Manager Jill Burt said.
Ames raised lifeguard wages from $8.50 an hour to $10 an hour and will pay for the lifeguard certification course.
“That was a barrier that you’re going into starting work already in the hole and need to work so many hours just to break even so being able to pay for that certificate for those who want to work for us has made a big change,” Burt said.
If you are interested in lifeguarding for the city of Des Moines apply before June 4th because that is when the certification classes begin but you can continue to apply throughout the summer.
Pools around the metro are expected to open in the next two weeks, either Memorial Day weekend or the following weekend.