Publish Date

“Your Perfect Summer Job” offers summer guards a path to year-round employment, free American Red Cross Certification and essential life-saving skills 

CHICAGO – The Chicago Park District is excited to announce a one-time, $600 retention bonus, that will be paid to year-round lifeguards and summer lifeguard candidates who successfully complete all required trainings, and fulfill their duties during the summer season.  In an effort to encourage swimmers to apply for the seasonal lifeguard position, and help retain qualified applicants, the District is also providing attractive incentives to candidates, which include tickets to Chicago Fire FC soccer home games upon completion of the Lifeguard Swim Test and a chance to win a one-day pass to Chicago’s Lollapalooza concert, and a Divvy membership pass. 

While we are optimistic about the number of lifeguard applications that we have received, only a portion of qualified applicants have completed the required skills-test and certification requirements. The $600 retention bonus for lifeguards will further help encourage applicants to satisfy the conditions required to fulfill the onboarding process. 

During the summer, the average current wage will be raised to an equivalent of $17.45/hour for new and returning hires, and over $18 for current year-round lifeguards. Bonus payments will be divided in two equal payments to be distributed with employee payroll checks during the season.

“We rely on our summer workforce to fully deliver on the essential, quality summer programs and services that residents have come to expect from us. The retention bonus is one approach to attract and retain the most qualified and enthusiastic lifeguards needed to open all beaches and pools this summer,” said Chicago Park District CEO & Superintendent Rosa Escareño. “In addition, we’re looking ahead to next year and focused on offering competing wages and building our future pipeline of summer workers and lifeguards disrupted over the past two years.”

Summer lifeguards are highly skilled, must pass specific skill tests and be properly certified, and as a result have always been more highly compensated than most other District seasonal staff. This year, the District is also covering the $85 cost for the required American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguard Certification training, and compensating prospective lifeguards for completing the final three-day Lifeguard Training Academy. As Chicago’s leading youth employer, the District has also budgeted approximately $20 million to invest in seasonal positions, including Lifeguards and Recreation Leaders. Of the total amount budgeted, roughly $12 million in wages and other compensation are earned by teens and young adults, which make up a large portion of our seasonal workforce. 

In early March, the District began soliciting candidates for lifeguards as part of the summer jobs campaign, “Your Perfect Summer Job,” and has received a favorable number of applicants to operate one of the largest aquatics programs in the country, and to ensure visitors can enjoy our beaches and pools safely this summer. 

At the end of the Summer, seasonal lifeguards who complete their job duties with a favorable, supervisory review, will be eligible for a seamless transition to year-round employment as a Chicago Park District lifeguard. This provides a great opportunity for individuals who want to work at our parks part-time or looking to pursue lifeguarding as a full-time career. 

In 2022, more than 80 seasonal lifeguards successfully moved into a full-time position with the District after fulfilling their summer commitment. Retaining skilled and dedicated guards is vital to the District’s commitment to providing continuous services throughout the city’s 77 neighborhoods.     

Seasonal Lifeguards must be 16 years of age, pass specific skill tests and be properly certified. For more information to apply, visit