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Summer Salaries: Lifeguard on Duty


Mitchell Ogle at work - ANDIE PINGA
  • Andie Pinga
  • Mitchell Ogle at work
In this new blog series, Summer Salaries, Kids VT will interview teenagers about the work they do when school is out. The series is written by our own summer intern,15-year-old Andie Pinga. Pinga is a rising sophomore at Phillips Academy and lives in South Burlington. 

18-year-old Mitchell Ogle has been swimming competitively since he was six years old. So, when he started looking for a summer job his sophomore year of high school, it made perfect sense for him to become a lifeguard. After keeping a watchful eye on swimmers at The EDGE Sports & Fitness for the past two summers, he became certified as a Water Safety Instructor this year. In that position, he teaches swimming to kids ages 6 months to 5 years old. Ogle begins college this fall at Southeast Technical at Minnesota State College and plans to lifeguard at a pool there. He'll continue his job at The EDGE during summer breaks.

Kids VT: Why did you decide to lifeguard and teach swim lessons?
Mitchell Ogle: I've been a swimmer all my life, so it seemed like a natural thing to [be] on the pool deck... a lot more preferable than working as a cashier or anything, and definitely higher pay. I just became a Water Safety Instructor three weeks ago. It’s a lot more interactive.

KVT: What was the application process like? 
MO: I didn't have an interview. They wanted as many lifeguards as they could get. So I was hired pretty easily.

KVT: What training did you have to go through to become a lifeguard?
MO: I took the lifeguard certification [course] at The Edge in Essex. It was Monday through Friday and it was like 8 to 3 everyday. It's a lot of class time — watching videos, talking about different strategies… And then you actually go into the water and practice them and learn them. At the end, there's actually a physical assessment, as well as a written assessment.

KVT: What is your salary ?
MO: The salary for lifeguarding is $11 an hour. Lessons are like $15 a half hour. It changes depending on the type of lessons.

KVT: How will you use your money? 
MO: Right now I'm saving it, because I'm going to college in a couple [of] months.

KVT: What is the best part of lifeguarding?
MO: Usually it’s not too much work if you're doing it right. It's pretty satisfying when nobody gets hurt at the end of the day, even if you have to talk to some kids about being safe. A lot of people think that good lifeguards are good at saving people, but the best lifeguards are good at having nobody to save.

KVT: Rewarding parts of the job?
MO: Once I lifeguarded [during the] Special Olympics. I thought that it was going to be really difficult, but it was not at all. The next year, I actually volunteered to coach for them. And that was a great experience.

KVT: Any advice for other teens looking for summer jobs?
MO: I would ask what they're interested in and [tell them to] try to pursue that. If you're looking to get a lot of money, like if you're saving up for college or a special trip somewhere, I'd get a place that has a lot of hours, whether that's guarding somewhere or working as a cashier.

This article was originally published in Seven Days' monthly parenting magazine, Kids VT.