NJ businesses may be struggling to hire but beaches will have plenty of lifeguards
While many New Jersey businesses have been struggling to hire workers because they are competing with generous unemployment benefits, Jersey Shore beaches seem to be doing OK with hiring lifeguards heading into Memorial Day weekend and the upcoming summer season.
Mike Veracierta, Seaside Park lifeguard captain, said their beaches are in good shape with a full roster of lifeguards ready to work. He said he tries to overhire if he can.
Veracierta said he has lifeguards who work full or part-time and some who are just looking to work a couple of days a week. He said he gets a lot of professionals applying to become lifeguards including a teacher, an assistant superintendent and a vice principal.
Lifeguard pay in Seaside Park jumped to $12 an hour this season. Veracierta believes the job sells itself.
"You're at the beach, you're on the sand, you're working out, it's a consistent job year after year," he said.
Asbury Park lifeguards start out at $13 an hour and increases with experience.
Asbury Park Beach Safety Supervisor Joe Bongiovanni said he, too, has a full lifeguard staff hired for the summer. But he's always accepting applications because it's possible a guard may have to be replaced or a situation may pop up where he has to put another lifeguard on duty. Interested applicants can apply on the Asbury Park website and on the town's lifeguard Instagram account.
He said there are about 60 to 70 lifeguards manning the Asbury Park beaches this summer but they are not all on duty at once. During the week, there may be up to 28 guards on duty and 35 on the weekends. Just like in Seaside Park, Asbury Park has full and part time lifeguards, some looking just to work weekends or a couple of days a week.
Bongiovanni said if the hiring process is ever slow, it's not because people don't want to work, like in other industries. It's because the qualifications to become a lifeguard are extremely strict. The training can often scare people from applying.
Bongiovanni said Asbury Park lifeguards must be at least 16 years old. They must be in good physical shape. They must be able to swim 500 meters in 10 minutes or less, they must be certified in advanced first aid, go through a rookie training course, then go through a rigorous training program throughout the summer complete with rescue drills, jogging exercises, paddle rescues, learn how to use all the life-saving equipment and more.
For many young people who apply to become lifeguards, this may their first job. But Bongiovanni said there's a huge difference with being a strong swimmer in the pool and being a strong swimmer in the ocean because of the waves, rip currents and rough seas. He said he has seen swim team kids not pass the lifeguard requirements because they are not strong in the ocean.