How To Get Your Water Safety Instruction Certification

A certified water safety instructor (WSI) has many open doors for career opportunities. Find out how and where you can become trained to become a Water Safety Instructor.

The American Red Cross's Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification is one of many advanced skills certifications available for swimmers who wish to work professionally as instructors or lifeguards. There are several other certifying agencies around the world, as well, that offer comparable certification. An individual with these sorts of advanced credentials is qualified to teach that organization's graduated swimming instruction program as well as being qualified to serve as a lifeguard in a variety of settings. The Red Cross's WSI certification is required for a number of volunteer positions as well. The individual who holds this credential has numerous employment and volunteer opportunities available.

The American Red Cross offers classes across the United States to assist candidates in preparing to become certified Water Safety Instructors. These classes often are offered at the local YMCA, YWCA, or the local chapter of the Red Cross. Some private pools also provide these classes, using Red Cross certified training personnel. These organizations can be contacted for scheduling and fee information.

Persons who wish to obtain their WSI certification from the American Red Cross must meet several minimum requirements in order to enter the class. Students must be seventeen years old and must complete a prerequisite Red Cross class called Fundamentals of Instructor Training. People who wish to apply for the Water Safety Instructor Program must also demonstrate proficiency at several swimming skills. Specifically, candidates must be able to swim the front crawl, back crawl, breast stroke, elementary backstroke, and side stroke for twenty-five yards each. They must also demonstrate the ability to swim the butterfly stroke for fifteen yards. Persons wishing to enroll in a WSI class must be able to float in a stationary position for at least one minute in deep water and must also be able to tread water for at least one minute in deep water.

In the United States, a certified Water Safety Instructor learns how to teach water safety and swimming, use Red Cross program materials designed for various age groups, evaluate students for certification at the various levels of water skills in the Red Cross programs, and maintain and submit accurate records and reports as required by the Red Cross. Qualified WSI professionals can become lifeguards, swim instructors, or diving teachers. They are also qualified to help train swim coaches in the prevention of emergencies and how to handle emergency situations. Persons with WSI certification are eligible to assist several volunteer organizations that work with youth around the country, such as Girl Scouts, as they participate in various water-related activities. The certification opens doors to many jobs and volunteer positions, and can lead to an exciting career as an aquatics professional. Perhaps most importantly, WSI-certified individuals can become part of a chain of professionals that train others in life-saving skills.

In addition to the American Red Cross, other agencies around the world also train Water Safety Instructors. Some have other names for the same level of certification, but the requirements are similar. Persons who wish to become certified at this level must demonstrate competent swimming skills and the strength and stamina necessary to perform the tasks required of lifeguards. They receive training in teaching water safety and swimming skills, delivering the organization's water education program, and managing the recording keeping and paperwork required by the certifying agency.

The Royal Life Saving Society, an organization in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain, has similar requirements to the American Red Cross, for example, except that youths are eligible for training at age fourteen. The International Life Saving Federation, based in Belgium, does not provide its own training program but offers an internationally recognized certification system based on other organizations' certificates in the applicant's home country. They offer a host of certifications that can be matched to official certifications held by the applicant. The purpose is standardization of certification and to aid in comparing certifications from one organization to another.

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