Publish Date

Highlights include new stipend-based initiative to build swim capacity of future lifeguard candidates, flexible swim test dates during student Winter Break, and early availability of the Summer Lifeguard application.

CHICAGO – The Chicago Park District is excited to announce that the Summer Lifeguard application is open earlier than ever before to ensure the active recruitment of qualified lifeguard candidates during the winter break session, and to provide interested candidates with ample time to train and become eligible to apply. 

This summer, we received nearly 2,000 applications for the lifeguard positions, 63 percent of them were youth between the ages of 16 and 18, and 65 have found a career at the Park District and transitioned from seasonal to full-time employees this year. 

With the support from Mayor Brandon Johnson and funding from the American Rescue Plan Act, the Park District is poised to hire additional youth, as well as provide youth with job-training and year-round employment. 

“We are not waiting and want youth, during Winter Break, to make summer lifeguard job at Parks their New Year’s resolution!” said Chicago Park District Superintendent and CEO Rosa Escareño. “Last year we saw success in initiating the summer lifeguard recruitment campaign during Spring Break when our youth, which make up more than half of our seasonal lifeguard team, are on break from school.” 

Application is Open 

Chicago’s lifeguards are among the best trained in the industry. In Chicago, lifeguards are essential members of the summer team that demonstrate extraordinary physical condition, and pledge to uphold the safety of swimmers in pools and beaches.  

The first step of the process in becoming a lifeguard and serving across the city to make Chicago’s vibrant aquatics recreation and programming possible is applying for the position online.  Summer lifeguards start as early as May 2024. The season runs through early September. At the end of summer, seasonal employees can be considered for full-time employment, giving them an opportunity to turn their temporary job into a lifelong career. 

Swimmers interested in applying to become a Chicago Park District lifeguard must be 16 years of age by July 1, pass specific skill tests and be properly certified. For more information on how to Become a Chicago Lifeguard, visit

In addition to paid training and certification, the Park District is also compensating qualified lifeguards for attending the final Lifeguard Training Academy, where hired summer lifeguards learn about the safe operation of a beaches and swimming pools after receiving their summer assignments. 

For the first time-ever, and to streamline the application progress, candidates may register for a Lifeguard Skills Test as part of the Lifeguard Application. The application is available at The next swim test is scheduled during Winter Break on December 22 to accommodate winter school schedules that allow high school and returning college students the flexibility to apply, take the swim skills test, and be on their way to becoming a lifeguard this summer.  

Lifeguard Skills Test & Red Cross Certification

New this year, the first 500 applicants that complete the Lifeguard Skills Test will receive a $50 Amazon gift card. The test includes a 200-yard timed swim, 20-yard underwater swim and retrieval of a 10-pound object from a depth of 10 to 14 feet. The next skills tests are scheduled for December 22, February 3, and March 9, and available at various park pool locations and times to accommodate lifeguard applicants’ schedules. The test is offered at no cost to the participant. 

After fulfilling the swim test requirements, candidates will be assigned to an American Red Cross Blended Learning Waterfront Lifeguard Training Course. In addition to the class being offered for free for the second consecutive year with $85 fees covered, the Chicago Park District is also providing participants with $400 for completion of the course, and $100 for re-certification. Classes are available during evenings and weekdays to ensure that students or candidates otherwise employed may attend. During the valuable Red Cross training classes, lifeguard candidates are trained in first aid, CPR and AED, waterfront skills, bloodborne pathogens, asthma inhaler, epinephrine auto injector, and in administering emergency oxygen.

Lifeguard Explorers Training Program 

The launch of the 2024 lifeguard recruitment campaign is accompanied by the unveiling of a winter session of the newly revitalized Lifeguard Explorers Training Program, an enriching training initiative to strengthen our workforce pipeline, connect qualified candidates to unique, summer job opportunities, and build the capacity of future lifeguards at local park pools. 

The Lifeguard Explorers Training Program is a stipend-based training session that offers Chicago residents, between the ages of 15 and 22 years old, the opportunity to learn the required skills needed to successfully pass the Lifeguard Skills Test. 

The class will run for 15 sessions twice a week, and participants will receive a stipend of $475 for completing the program that is being offered at the following locations from January 8 through March 1, 2024.

•    Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St.
Tuesdays & Thursdays, 5-7 p.m.
•    Nash Park, 1833 E. 71st
Mondays & Wednesdays, 4-6 p.m.
•    Homan Square Community Center Park, 3559 W. Arthington
Mondays & Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m.
•    LaFollette Park, 1333 N. Laramie Ave.
Thursdays 5-7 p.m. & Saturdays 12-2 p.m.

“Providing a paid opportunity to upskill our potential lifeguards and expand their capabilities maximizes hiring results and supports interested candidates through the application process,” added Escareño. “This program eliminates financial barriers for specialty training and gives everyone that is interested in becoming a lifeguard an opportunity to apply and be hired.” 

Interested, qualifying participants must register online at


Building the Future Lifeguard Corps: Learn to Swim 

“We’re ramping up our training efforts to make learning to swim a possibility for everyone,” emphasized Escareño. “Teaching this life-saving skill to people of all ages across the city and offering more free opportunities in those communities with higher percentages of non-swimmers will bolster our water safety efforts and create new pipelines of future lifeguard candidates.” 

Learn to swim classes start at the age of 18 months and are offered for youth and adults. Patrons are encouraged to learn more about the Park District’s First Free program for the Learn to Swim course, which gives patrons, ages 6-17 years old, the opportunity to take a 10-session introductory swim class for free. The Park District offers this free opportunity year-round. Registration for the Winter Session Learn to Swim classes opened on December 4th and 5th. For a complete list of all Learn to Swim aquatic programs, please click here. Most classes start the week of January 8, 2024.