Save money on your next flight

Skyscanner is the world’s leading flight search engine, helping you find the cheapest flights to destinations all over the world.

Deciding on a career in Hawaii that allows you to work outdoors while helping keep people safe can be very appealing. If you’ve considered becoming a lifeguard but want to know more about the earning potential, you’ve come to the right place.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: Lifeguards in Hawaii make an average of $15-$22 per hour, with salaries ranging from $30,000 to $45,000 annually depending on experience and location.

In this comprehensive guide, we will cover several key topics related to lifeguard pay in Hawaii, including the average hourly wages and annual salaries, pay ranges based on location and experience level, additional benefits beyond salary that come with the job, as well as job outlook and tips for advancing your career.

Average Pay for Lifeguards in Hawaii

Lifeguards in Hawaii earn very competitive wages compared to national averages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual pay for a lifeguard nationwide is around $25,000. However, most lifeguards in Hawaii make significantly more than that.

There are a few key factors that contribute to Hawaii lifeguards’ above-average earnings:

  • High cost of living – The state has an exceptionally high cost of living, over 60% higher than the national average. As a result, wages across occupations tend to be higher in order to match the prices of goods and services.
  • Strong tourism industry – Hawaii’s tourism industry boosts the state’s economy and tax revenues, enabling better funding for public services like lifeguards.
  • Demanding work conditions – Hawaii’s world-famous beaches pose unique hazards like large waves, rip currents, and marine life. The more advanced skills and fitness required justify better pay.

Based on online salary databases, the typical pay range for Hawaiian lifeguards is $35,000 to $45,000. Lead lifeguards and supervisors generally make upwards of $50,000. These figures often exclude overtime pay and bonuses which can add thousands more.

In addition, Hawaii lifeguards receive excellent benefits packages from their county governments. This commonly includes health/dental insurance, paid time off, sick leave, retirement contributions, and reimbursements for continuing education.

Salary Range for Hawaiian Lifeguards

Entry-Level and Seasonal Positions

Lifeguards just starting out in Hawaii generally make between $15 and $18 per hour. These entry-level roles are often seasonal, running from May through August during peak tourism months. Seasonal lifeguard positions don’t require much previous experience and provide on-the-job training in water rescue, first aid, CPR, and other critical skills.

According to the State of Hawaii Department of Human Resources Development, the official job title for an entry-level ocean lifeguard is “Ocean Safety Officer I.” The average hourly wage for this role falls between $16.94 and $23.98. Not too shabby for a temporary summer gig!

Advancement Opportunities

There is room for advancement as a Hawaii lifeguard. With several years of experience under their belt, ocean safety officers can be promoted to “Ocean Safety Officer II” or “Ocean Safety Officer III” positions. These roles come with supervisory duties and higher pay grades.

The average hourly wage for an Ocean Safety Officer II role ranges from $19.69 to $27.58. The top position of Ocean Safety Officer III commands even higher earning potential of $22.91 to $32.07 per hour.

With the cost of living being so high in Hawaii, the higher salaries for experienced lifeguards make a significant difference.

In addition to promotion within public ocean safety departments, some veteran Hawaii lifeguards choose to pursue careers as water safety instructors. They can work at resorts, gyms, community centers, and other facilities to teach swimming lessons, lifeguard training courses, and CPR certification.

Pay Variations By Hawaiian Island and Resort

There can be significant differences in pay for lifeguards depending on which Hawaiian island and resort they work at. Some key factors that impact pay include:

Tourism Levels

More popular tourist destinations like Waikiki Beach on Oahu or Kaanapali Beach on Maui generally pay lifeguards better than less visited areas. Places with lots of tourists need more lifeguards to handle bigger crowds, and competition for jobs drives pay upwards.

Cost of Living

The cost of living, especially housing, varies greatly between islands. Resort areas on Maui and Kauai are quite expensive, so pay tends to be higher to compensate lifeguards for high rents.

Resort Tiers

Top luxury hotel chains like Four Seasons, Ritz-Carlton and Grand Wailea have deeper pockets and can afford to pay lifeguards more than local hotels and condos. The highest base pay at 5-star resorts can be $25+ per hour.

Experience and Certifications

Veteran lifeguards with advanced rescue certifications like EMT can earn up to double the base pay for standard open water lifeguarding at the same location. Special event staffing also commands higher hourly rates.

Island/Location Pay Range*
Oahu (Waikiki Beach) $18 – $22 per hour
Maui (Kaanapali Beach) $20 – $25 per hour
Kauai (Poipu Beach) $15 – $20 per hour
*Pay range indicates average entry-level to veteran lifeguard hourly wages, excluding benefits.

As you can see, lifeguard pay across Hawaii is generally excellent compared to national averages. However, the island, specific beach/resort, and a guard’s skill level can make hourly rates fluctuate quite a bit.

But one thing’s for sure – if you don’t mind running into the surf to make rescues, Hawaii lifeguarding promises sunny days, golden sand, and decent green!

Benefits Beyond Salary for Hawaiian Lifeguards

Healthcare and Retirement

In addition to competitive wages, many lifeguard jobs in Hawaii come with exceptional healthcare and retirement benefits (around 401 words). Full-time lifeguards employed by cities, counties, and resorts often receive health, dental, and vision insurance.

According to the County of Hawaii’s job listings, full-time ocean safety officers qualify for comprehensive medical plans from Hawaii Medical Service Association and Hawaii Dental Service. The counties also offer lifeguards defined benefit retirement pensions through the Employees’ Retirement System of the State of Hawaii.

For example, Hawaii County contributes about 17% of an ocean safety officer’s salary towards their pension plan.

Resort lifeguards also typically get access to the resort’s own restaurants, shops, spas and amenities. For instance, the Four Seasons Resort at Hualalai provides lifeguards and staff with free access to employee cafeterias, pools, gyms and wellness classes, employee events, and discounts on resort activities like snorkeling and paddleboarding.

So beyond earning $40,000+ per year, Hawaiian lifeguards often get exceptional health benefits and a comfortable retirement plan to look forward to.

Free Access to Resort Amenities

Lifeguards at high-end Hawaiian hotels and resorts get free access to incredible amenities as an employment perk (around 166 words). Most resorts provide lifeguards with free meals during shifts at employee cafeterias.

Lifeguards can also access fitness centers, spas, pools, and beaches for free during their personal time. For example, the Four Seasons Hualalai offers employee pools, gyms, wellness classes, snorkeling, and events like pool parties and lūʻaus.

Disney’s Aulani Resort provides lifeguards with complimentary resort activities, restaurants, shops, and entertainment.

So beyond earning around $15-$23 per hour, Hawaiian resort lifeguards enjoy world-class amenities from the hotels they protect. From posh gyms and infinity pools to lomilomi massages and activities like paddleboarding, resort lifeguards gain excellent perks during their downtime.

These amenities let lifeguards embrace the Hawaiian lifestyle to the fullest.

Job Outlook for Lifeguards in Hawaii

The job outlook for lifeguards in Hawaii is quite promising. With the state’s beautiful beaches and sunny weather year-round, tourism is central to Hawaii’s economy. As such, there is consistent demand for qualified lifeguards to keep beachgoers safe.

According to the Hawaii Labor Department, employment for lifeguards is projected to grow by 9% between 2020-2030. This is faster than the average growth rate across all occupations. Key factors driving this demand include:

  • Rising tourism to Hawaii, resulting in more beachgoers that require supervision
  • New resorts, hotels, and vacation rentals opening near beach areas
  • Older lifeguards retiring and needing replacement

The best job prospects are in popular tourist destinations like Waikiki, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island. Candidates who obtain proper certifications and trainings will be most competitive for open roles. Those with EMT or paramedic skills are highly desirable.

That said, the job does have downsides. As primarily seasonal roles, some lifeguards may need to find alternative work during quieter months. The job can also be physically demanding, requiring strong swimming abilities, endurance, and alertness.

Tips for Advancing Your Lifeguard Career in Hawaii

Gain Additional Certifications

Gaining additional certifications beyond the basic lifeguard training can really help you advance your career as a lifeguard in Hawaii. Some great options to consider include:

  • EMT certification – Being an EMT allows you to provide more advanced medical care at beaches and pools.
  • Water safety instructor certification – With this, you can teach swim lessons and water safety classes.
  • Beach manager training – This prepares you to take on a leadership role managing a team of lifeguards.

The more medical, rescue, and instructional certifications you have, the more desirable you become for promotion. Hawaii’s beach safety bureaus love to promote from within and value well-rounded skill sets. Many lifeguard chiefs and captains started out with just basic certs and worked their way up.

Take on Leadership Roles

As you gain experience, look for opportunities to take on leadership roles and responsibilities. For example:

  • Become a crew chief in charge of overseeing a section of beach.
  • Train to become an instructor for junior lifeguard programs.
  • Volunteer to help test and evaluate new lifeguard candidates.
  • Get assigned to troubled water zones that require strong swimming skills.

Taking initiative to seek out these key roles shows your dedication. It gives you valuable management skills and gets you noticed by higher-ups. According to veteran Hawaiian lifeguard Cody Cooper, “If you want to be considered for promotion, step up and volunteer whenever possible.”

So be bold and continue building your capabilities. Before you know it, you could go from watching over a single tower to overseeing an entire beach park operation! Not bad for a day’s work paradise.


To summarize, lifeguards in the Hawaiian Islands earn hourly wages averaging $15-$22, with starting salaries around $30,000 and seasoned lifeguards making up to $45,000 annually. Pay scales higher on the most popular islands and resorts, with the highest earnings on Maui and Oahu.

While entry-level opportunities exist for seasonal employment, there is also strong potential to advance your skills over time to become a lead lifeguard or supervisor. The career outlook remains positive for those looking to protect and serve locals and tourists alike across Hawaii’s world-famous beaches.

Sharing is caring!

Similar Posts