Aquatics Academy                


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Aquatics Academy accelerates training for those interested in becoming a lifeguard or swim instructor. It is free of charge and helps you obtain the necessary certifications required for employment.


Do you know someone else who would make a great swim instructor or lifeguard? YMCA employees can earn employee referral bonuses. Find out more here! 

Why Become a Lifeguard or Swim Instructor?  

The YMCA is more than a pool—we are a community committed to strengthening bodies, minds, and neighborhoods. Apply your love of the water or interest in youth to discover new talents within yourself, build leadership, save lives, teach life-saving skills, and have a lasting impact on youth and adults in your community. Watch the video below to find out how! 

Those who complete training through the Aquatics Academy fulfill t
he minimum requirements required to be a lifeguard or swim instructor at any YMCA of Metro Chicago location, provided you are also able to successfully pass a background and reference check. Opportunities are available at the YMCA location closest to you! 

Other perks: 
  • Fun, interactive job with great co-workers
  • If you are interested in a career working with children, being a lifeguard or swim instructor helps you gain critical experience and skills. 
  • Flexible and predictable work schedules
  • A free YMCA individual membership and discounts on YMCA program fees
  • If you have already completed Red Cross lifeguard certification (at YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago locations only), you may receive a refund of any course fees paid in the previous twelve months, once you are employed at the Y. 

Aquatics Academy Courses 
  • YMCA Swim Instructor certification OR
  • YMCA Lifeguard certification 
  • Red Cross CPR/First Aid/AED/Professional Rescuer certification

There is no cost for this training once you are accepted to the Aquatics Academy. 

Course Requirements

In order to participate in the Aquatics Academy, you must meet the following requirements:
  • Image of young swimmers in a pool with a swim instructor and lifeguardBe at least 16 years of age by the last day of the scheduled course 
  • If under 18 years of age, must obtain parental consent prior to participating
  • Successfully pass a YMCA swim test required in order to meet physical competency requirements for certification. Read the Physical Competency Requirements (PDF) to see what you need to be able to do.
Course Training 

Lifeguard Certification
  • Online training is required prior to course dates
  • 1-day CPR/First Aid and Professional Rescuer certification
  • 2-day Lifeguard training 
  • You will receive a current schedule at your swim test - option to sign up for a future training to be scheduled
Swim Instructor Certification
  • 1-day CPR/First Aid class required 
  • YMCA Swim Instructor classes offered most weekends. Weekday classes are also available. 
  • You will receive a current schedule at your swim test - option to sign up for another future training to be scheduled
Completion of all online training requirements and attendance at all days of in-person training is required to achieve certification, as well as to meet job requirements for employment. 

Sign up today! 

Once you complete registration, a YMCA representative will get in touch with you to schedule your swim test and/or answer any questions you have. 

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Because of our commitment to safety and quality, pre-employment screening including a criminal background check will be required before you can begin working for the YMCA. 

The YMCA is an Equal Opportunity Employer. The YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago is committed to providing fairly all recruiting, hiring, promotion, compensation, and other employment related actions to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, age, gender, gender identity, national origin, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law.