Maintaining Your American Red Cross Lifeguard Certification

Almost every full course I teach has at least 1 person who let it expire and unhappily is taking the full lifeguard course again.

Don’t let that happen to you. If you let your certification expire, you have to take a full lifeguard class all over again.

The Red Cross maintains an online database of certifications. That means you must keep up to date and there is no way around it.

To know what you have to do to stay up to date, first you must know what you are certified in. Upon successful completion of an American Red Cross lifeguard course, you are certified in lifeguarding, CPR, AED, and first aid.

The certification is valid for 2 years. To keep up to date with your certification, you must take a review course.

The Red Cross Lifeguard cert does have a grace period – 30 days. You have 30 days from the expiration to complete a review course.

Otherwise it will expire completely… leaving you to take a full class if you want to work as a guard again.

That’s not all you have to keep track of.

Did you know that lifeguards in New York State need to take a professional level CPR course every year?

Check your state’s regulations

New York State requires that lifeguards take a professional level CPR course every year. If you do not have a valid professional CPR certification within one calendar year you won’t be allowed to work.

Even though the ARC lifeguard certification is valid for 2 years, you still have to meet that requirement.

This is dependent on your state. You do not need to take another CPR course if you are not guarding in a state that requires it. Your Red Cross Lifeguard certification might be all you need every 2 years.

FAQs about the Red Cross lifeguard cert

I’ve been a guard for years but let my certification expire. Do I have to take the course again?


The American Red Cross standard is 30 days from expiration date. That is the only grace period that you receive.

If you let your certification expire by more than 30 days, you must take the full base level lifeguard certification course.

Why do I have to recertify?

To guard, you must maintain your certification. The certification is only valid for 2 years.

However, it’s not just because you have to. The knowledge and skills must be practiced to be able to respond effectively.

Every few years the American Red Cross updates their lifeguard and CPR certification courses. These updates are to ensure that the training and skills being provided are the highest quality and in line with the most up to date research.

Maintaining a certification by taking review courses and practicing your skills are the only ways to ensure that when an emergency arises, you are providing the best care that you can.

Have a specific question regarding your American Red Cross Lifeguard or CPR certification? Contact us today and we will answer any question you have.