In desperate search for summer help, City boosts lifeguard salary, offers certification reimbursement

UPDATE (4/19/21): The City of Rapid City has increased the starting salary for lifeguards to $13.86 an hour, and is offering to reimburse $100 of the $185 lifeguard certification fee for applicants willing to work the entire summer.


RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City hires roughly 300 seasonal workers each year for jobs such as maintenance workers and grounds keepers, but the biggest need for the city right now is lifeguards. They are short 40 lifeguards across the cities four public pools.

Emily Carstensen, Recreation Specialist for the Rapid City Parks and Recreation Department, said, “We’re usually short, I’d say, 15 to 25-ish people and we’ll usually hire that many by June 1st. Essentially we’ll kinda get some last people right at the end but this by far is the biggest decrease.”

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the Summer of 2020, pools and other outdoor activities in the city were closed and many seasonal workers found jobs elsewhere. This year, outdoor pools could remain closed due to a lack of lifeguards.

Rapid City Mayor, Steve Allender, said, “Last year with the pandemic and everything, we made a decision not to open the swimming pools and it was a major blow to people. So I would hate to do that again this year because we don’t have lifeguards.”

If you would like to apply for lifeguard positions you must first be certified. Roosevelt Swim Center and the Rapid City YMCA are both offering multiple certification courses to become a lifeguard.

Lifeguard certifications last for two years and can be completed in a weekend.

Emily Carstensen also said, “Weekend-long course, the fee is $185. If we hire you after the course, which we more than likely will, you can make that back working about 17 hours.”

The Rapid City Parks and Recreation Department is also looking to fill other seasonal jobs to maintain the cities golf courses and cemeteries.

Jeff Biegler, Director of Parks and Recreation Department, said, “Our main objective is to provide a pleasant experience for the public when they’re visiting our parks or our facilities. And these seasonal employees we get are critical to that goal.”

If you are interested in signing up for lifeguard certifications or applying for other seasonal positions you can follow the link here.

Categories: Local News