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Seasonal lifeguards a $500 retention bonus and $200 for recreation leaders, attendants and junior laborers.
Seasonal lifeguards a $500 retention bonus and $200 for recreation leaders, attendants and junior laborers.
Photo: Chicago Park District

District will pay $500 bonus to seasonal lifeguards and a $200 bonus to other seasonal staff as part of their recruitment efforts  

Today, the Chicago Park District announced it will offer bonuses to applicants who are offered and accept seasonal employment in an effort to retain qualified candidates to work in the parks this Summer.  The District will pay seasonal lifeguards a $500 retention bonus and other seasonal employees, including recreation leaders, attendants and junior laborers a $200 bonus in addition to their seasonal employee wages. 

“As we prepare for our busiest season in the parks coming out of the pandemic, we want to do all we can to attract and retain the most qualified and enthusiastic seasonal workforce possible,” said General Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “The retention bonus is the District’s measure to ensure we are paying competitive wages that are in line with other public sector employers in this competitive marketplace and compensating our summer workers for the important work they do to serve our communities.”

The Chicago Park District is actively recruiting residents, ages 16 and older, to fill 2100 summer positions, including Lifeguards, Recreation Leaders, Junior Laborers and Attendants. These positions are vital to the District’s operations and the quality of service park patrons and program participants have come to expect. The current hourly wage for Lifeguards is $15.88/hour. Recreation Leaders, Junior Laborers and Attendants are paid $15/hour.

Seasonal Lifeguards will receive a bonus of $500 while Seasonal Recreation Leaders, Seasonal Junior Laborers or Seasonal Attendants will receive a $200 bonus.  The bonus will be divided into two equal payment.

“Our jobs not only offer a unique experience in the outdoors but we are also very proud to offer our young people character building and professional experience they can use in the future,” Escareño added.  “Lifeguards are charged with protecting life and safety and are required to meet a higher threshold of training and expertise. Similarly, our Recreational Leaders and Junior Laborers are learning to care for children and the environment which sets them up with great skills for their future.” 

Seasonal Lifeguards must pass specific skill tests and be properly certified, and as a result have always been more highly compensated than most other Park District seasonal staff. In addition, lifeguards must incur the approximate $100 cost of required certification. The $500 retention bonus for lifeguards will help defray the expense of acquiring the credentials necessary to be qualified for the position. 

Like other park agencies across the country, the Chicago Park District is experiencing the impact of a national lifeguard shortage. It has been widely reported that other cities have adjusted pool hours or announced that pools will be closed to the public this Summer. 

To combat the national shortage and boost lifeguard recruitment, the Chicago Park District launched “I am a Chicago Lifeguard”, a campaign highlighting the skilled and dedicated lifeguards who make aquatics programming and recreational opportunities in our great city possible. While the District has received a favorable number of qualified applicants for seasonal lifeguards and many have gone through the required testing, only a small number of candidates have followed through with the onboarding process. This bonus is intended to incentivize those already hired to complete the process and attract additional candidates in order to have a safe, successful summer. 

“The safety of our patrons and our workforce must always be the District’s top priority,” said Superintendent Escareño. “Following the pandemic, our goal is to plan for a fully-open parks system for all to enjoy and to ensure our staffing and planning efforts for this summer always put safety first.” 

The Chicago Park District remains optimistic that the retention bonus will help secure enough lifeguards to open the beaches on Friday, May 27th and pools on June 24th, as scheduled. 

For a full list of seasonal job listings, click here.  For all  available positions, click here