Metro counties shortening pool hours over shortage of lifeguards

ATLANTA — It could be a rough summer for public and community pools, struggling with a shortage of lifeguards.

Some counties have already shortened pool hours.

Right now, the city of Atlanta is not cutting back hours, but that could change.

Lifeguarding used to be thought of as a really great and envious summer job for teens. Not so much, anymore.

What could be a better job than basking in the sun on a lifeguard chair, scanning the pool to make sure everyone one is safe?

“Back in the day when I was in lifeguarding, we had Bay Watch. Hundreds of people would come out and then we could take the creme of the crop because everyone wanted to be a lifeguard,” said Wyatt Werneth with the American Lifeguard Association.

But those glory days of lifeguarding are over.

Fewer teens are choosing to lifeguard because it takes training.

Plus, with the economy rebounding from the pandemic, teens who want to work over the summer have a lot more options.

“Competitive salaries, big retail and restaurants are competing with our salaries and it’s so much harder to be a lifeguard,” Werneth said.


Nationwide, the lifeguard shortage could impact a third of public pools.

Clayton, Cobb and Gwinnett counties are cutting back hours.

That hasn’t happened in Atlanta yet.

Mayor Andre Dicken told Channel 2′s Tom Regan that the city is pushing to hire 3,000 teens and young adults for parks and recs jobs over the summer

“It gives them money, it gives them an experience and it takes care of vacancies,” Dickens said.

It’s not just public pools feeling the impact of the shortage.

“Another pool we use, sometimes they have to close early because there’s not enough lifeguard or they don’t have as many people because they don’t have enough lifeguards to watch over everyone,” local parent Megan Vangroningin said.

If you are a teen looking for a poolside summer job, there’s plenty of lifeguard openings out there.

It pays around $15 to $17 an hour.