Bismarck Parks and Rec must compete with other job opportunities to hire lifeguards

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 8:02 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Last week, Bismarck Parks and Recreation announced only one pool would open for the summer because there weren’t enough lifeguards. This left some people wondering if was the pay, the modern work ethic or too many options that kept teens from applying at the pools.

Some of these teens aren’t just looking to save lives this summer but save some money as well.

”My parents make me, well they don’t make me, they want me to have a sense of responsibility. So, I pay for my car insurance, my phone — all that stuff. So, I am looking for the highest paying job I can get with little experience,” said lifeguard-in-training Bailey Backer.

Backer is one of eleven people taking a lifeguard class through Bismarck Parks and Recreation. Since the news of the lifeguard shortage spread, eight more people have turned in applications, and the phone has been ringing with people inquiring about classes.

”Our current lifeguard class is full and we’ll get three to four more out of the class that will be working for us,” said Ryan Geerdes, Bismarck Parks and Recreation Department facilities manager

Geerdes said he noticed a national lifeguard shortage about three to four years ago and Bismarck is just now seeing the effects.

”And it’s kind of taken that long to catch up to us, and we’re starting to feel that now. But there are so many other options out there now that these kids can pick and choose where they want to work,” said Geerdes.

Backer agrees. She said there are plenty of job opportunities, but when it comes time to pick one, pay is the deciding factor.

”They are not paying enough for people to want to stay. The amount the people I watched walk out because they aren’t being paid enough is astronomical,” said Backer.

From a quick search on Indeed, Your News Leader was able to see many jobs with little experience needed with pay ranging from $10 to $18 per hour. Geerdes said lifeguards at Bismarck Parks and Recreation will start from $12 to $14 per hour.

Hillside Pool and the Elks Splash Pad will both open on June 5 at noon and if more lifeguards apply, other pools could open.