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Lifeguards are in high demand these days

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A shortage of lifeguards has been reported around Minnesota over the last few years, and there seems to be no relief for this summer, either.

Some pools and public swimming areas may not open for the season if they can't find help.

That's the issue at Buffalo River State Park, where only one lifeguard has applied for the job. The man-made river water pool will be closed until they hire at least five more lifeguards, the DNR says.

Lake Park and Pelican Rapids haven't had any applicants as of earlier this week, and the pools there may not open, the Fargo Forum reported. And the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities has had a lifeguard shortage for at least the last two years, Joan Schimmi, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing told BringMeTheNews.

Applications are coming in slower than last year at the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Department, Aquatics Director Mimi Kalb told BringMeTheNews. (Although they do expect to be fully staffed by the time guarded beaches open in June.)

Where have all the lifeguards gone?

Although sitting in a chair and getting a tan sounds like a nice enough summer job, apparently not enough people are applying for the position anymore.

The pay isn't bad – lifeguards at the Minneapolis Parks and Rec make $9-$13 hourly, depending on qualifications. So what's the issue?

After we bounced back from the recession, NPR said the improving economy could have been a factor – there are more jobs and not enough people to fill them.

And Twin Cities Business Magazine said recently that unemployment rates for Minnesota teens are the lowest since 2002, so it's possible that many potential lifeguards are choosing different kinds of jobs. Lifeguard applicants usually have to undergo a physical stamina test and pay for certification.

Plus, the job is a lot more than sitting poolside – you have to be able to save someone who is drowning.

The lack of applications has prompted some facilities to find new and different ways to recruit lifeguards. Schimmi said the YMCA has held a job fair, created full-time positions, and even offered free classes for potential lifeguards to get certified.

So how do you get certified?

The Red Cross and YMCA offer lifeguarding classes at locations throughout Minnesota.

The prerequisites: You must be at least 15 years old, able to swim 300 yards without stopping, complete a timed event, and be able to tread water for two minutes using only your legs.

If all else fails, we still have 10,000 lakes...

Minnesotans can always purify themselves in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.

Just kidding – but the lakes are always an option, if the local pool is closed.

And 65 wading pools open in Minneapolis on June 1 – although there are no lifeguards there either.

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Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board officials say lots of people typically apply for summer lifeguard jobs. But that is not the case this year – even though teens in general are desperate for jobs. With two water parks, 12 beaches and 65 wading pools, the park board is scrambling to fill positions.