Requirements for Teaching Swim Lessons

Teaching a child or adult how to swim provides a low-impact aerobic activity that lasts a lifetime. Swim lessons are offered at many pools and YMCA facilities. To become a certified swimming instructor, men and women must go through extensive training and testing.

Provide a safe learning environment when teaching a child or adult to swim. (Image: Sergey Chirkov/Hemera/Getty Images)

Swim Instruction Certification

Many organizations help people acquire swim instruction certification. The American Red Cross is one of the main organizations offering swim instructor training and testing. A swimming pretest is given to all applicants followed by training courses and a final written test. Certification level depends on the individual's ability to successfully pass all courses as well as the duration of level 1 instruction. The American Red Cross also provides CPR classes to all instructor trainees.

Aquatic Teaching Foundation Unit

The Aquatic Teaching Foundation Unit is the core of swimming instructor training. The ATFU covers the basics of swimming safety. Further certification training courses are designed around your level of education and dedication. For example, certification to teach beginners requires that candidates be at least 16 years old, acquire the Safeguarding and Promoting the Welfare of Children certification, CPR certification and a 20-hour training course in beginner swim technique.

Advanced Instruction

Applicants who are at least 18 years of age and have certain qualifications such as teaching degrees in primary education are eligible for swimming certifications through distance learning. These specialized certifications require the same training as beginner instructors as well as extended hours to earn a higher certification such as aquatics and intermediate. Requiring from 16 to 36 hours of instruction time, these certifications establish swim instructors in a position to teach people of all ages without supervision from a senior instructor.

Working as a Swimming Instructor

Once you have completed your qualification courses and received your certifications, employment is the next step. Becoming associated with a well-known swimming organization such as the YMCA will help you gain experience and progress toward independent swim instruction in the future. When providing private swim instruction, you need insurance to cover yourself and your students if an accident occur. Always make your credentials available to students and parents and submit all paperwork in a timely manner when partnering with other organizations.

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