HONOLULU (KHON2) — Nationwide there have been reports on lifeguard shortages at pools, state beaches and at resorts. 

John Titchen with Ocean Safety said they have heard about lifeguard shortages nationally and even on Oahu at local and private pools, but his agency hasn’t greatly been impacted. 

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He said thankfully they are not seeing a shortage of interested Ocean Safety lifeguards and is hopeful qualified people will sign up at their next try outs. 

“As a matter of fact, at our most recent tryout, we had 150 interested Guards for 30 spots,” said Titchen. “So, we seem to be doing just fine right now bringing in talented water women and watermen, and we are hopeful of adding even more.”

The next Ocean Safety tryout is in August and for interested lifeguards they can find more  information on the city website. 

Titchen said they have only five vacant positions (of 235 full time jobs) and are in the process of filling all of them with promotional opportunities. 

“We actually need more positions added to our Department, and I am confident we will fill those, too,” said Titchen. “This is a good time for young people, or those seeking a career change, to think about lifeguarding for the City here on Oahu.”

The starting pay is at $22.49 an hour and includes paid time to train each day. He said the physical standards to become a lifeguard for the City on Oahu are among the most demanding in the world.

Titchen said although they are doing fine staffing wise, the national reports do concern him. Reports of the “Great Resignation” and people choosing less demanding jobs for similar pay is contributing to the shortage of lifeguards nationwide. 

Those wanting to be beach lifeguards on Oahu know it isn’t a walk in the park with some people training weeks before try outs. 

“I talk to my counterparts in the other counties and in some jurisdictions in the continental U.S. and I am a little nervous as we attempt to bring in even more lifeguards to the City,” said Titchen. “Currently, we have 230 full time employees and 42 contract Guards. I’d like to add another 15 contract Guards in 2022, and then 15-30 more in 2023.”

He said the qualified lifeguards that get hired have a very low turnover rate. Although the job is demanding it comes with great rewards. 

“We have very little attrition. We lose about 5-10 per year to retirement, or transfers to the Honolulu Fire Department or State DLNR or other county lifeguard agencies, and most of our personnel stay for a while,” said Titchen. “It’s a great job, and the City is working hard to put all of our workforce on an “Alternate Work Schedule” of four 10-hour days.”

Listening to what employees want and finding what works best for all parties could be why Oahu isn’t seeing a drastic drop in people wanting to become lifeguards. 

“This can improve morale, reduce lost work time, is a cheaper and more effective way to extend our hours, and if we are one day funded appropriately for overtime, could result in a very good financial option for many of our personnel who increasingly have to work other jobs to survive financially here on Oahu,” said Titchen. 

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For more information on the upcoming try outs in August or to see the qualifications to become an Ocean Safety lifeguard head to the City and County of Honolulu’s website