California Lifeguards Make Over $100,000 a Year

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Newport Beach, in Orange County, California


Here’s another reason why California is broke.
Some fulltime lifeguards in Newport Beach in Southern California earn well over $100,000 in total compensation a year – more than what a nurse or doctor or college professor makes.
The Associated Press reports on May 20, 2011 that a debate has erupted in Newport Beach about its 13-member fulltime lifeguard crew ever since the local newspaper editorialized about lifeguard salaries, benefits and overtime pay that in at least two instances top $200,000 (with $400 for sun protection) as the city struggles to rein in pension costs.
The swell of anger from beachgoers and budget-watchers alike has blindsided the lifeguards, who have for years enjoyed the prestige of their jobs in an ocean-centric town that banks on summer tourism. Now, as the pressure mounts, they are balking at their portrayal as suntanned slackers lounging in beach towers as the surf rolls in.
Those whose salaries are in question point out that they hold management roles, have decades of service and are considered public safety employees under the fire department, the same as fire captains and battalion chiefs. The fulltime guards train more than 200 seasonal lifeguards who make between $16 and $22 an hour, run a junior lifeguard program that brings in $1 million a year and oversee safety on nearly seven miles of sand.
Base salaries for Newport Beach lifeguards range from $58,000 for the lowest-paid officer to $108,492 for the top-paid battalion chief, according to a 2010 city report on lifeguard pay. Adding in overtime, special compensation, pension, medical benefits, life insurance and other pay, two battalion chiefs cleared more than $200,000 in 2010, while the lowest-paid officer made more than $98,000.
All lifeguards received $400 in sunscreen allowance and two cleared $28,000 apiece in overtime and night duty pay.
Newport Beach’s lifeguards can also retire at 50 with 90 percent of their salary with 30 years of service, according to state data.
“Because of the compensation, lifeguarding has evolved from a brief and youthful interlude into a career and that’s probably what’s most shocking,” said Councilwoman Leslie Daigle, who added that in the winter the fulltime lifeguards stayed busy answering phones and painting guard towers. “I think people are looking for elected officials to be more fiscally conservative. We love lifeguards, but that’s not the issue.”
In budget talks, City Manager David Kiff proposed converting four of the fulltime positions to part-time status, a move the full city council is expected to review in the coming weeks.
Read the rest of the article here.
~Eowyn

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0 responses to “California Lifeguards Make Over $100,000 a Year

  1. the twilight zone in action-

     
  2. There is something in the water out there.
    LOL – And it ain’t the lifeguards.
    -Dave

     
  3. I live here in Newport, and I agree that the salaries seem high, but it’s important to take into account that the job these people do is incredibly dangerous. I’m from Tennessee, where I grew up swimming in Panama City in the Gulf. Out here, it is not the same ocean. At least one person drowns here every year; some years we have more than that it seems. We have several million tourists come through here every year, and many don’t understand how rough the ocean is here. We’re not on a continental shelf like Florida. Rather, the bottom drops into a trench just a few feet out. It makes for huge waves and very rough waters. The lifeguards are constantly, constantly having to go in and drag someone out, often under pretty scary conditions. I think of the lifeguards in the same way I think of firefighters. They have to be professionals, and they deserve to be paid like professionals, in my opinion. (Also, $100,000 is actually a very median salary for Newport, as you might imagine. And, this is a longer story, but the city isn’t really broke. You wouldn’t believe how much money floats around this little town, and I’d rather it go to the lifeguards than some other places it could end up.)

     
  4. In order to be even considered to be a So.Cal. life guard, one has to be an olympic class swimmer. Thes men and women are highly trained in ocean rescue, and the water temp rarely raises to 70 degrees, the air temps are generally 68 or less.
    If there is anyone out there who can compete with these men and women, please step up to the plate.So Cal Life Guards:
    They are highly trained.
    They work in an uncomfortable, hostile envirnment.
    They have the physical conditioning of Olympic athletes.
    We should be more than happy to compensate them, if you want to pick on people who make too much money, feel free to attack T.V personalities, Televangelists and sports figures. Leave our life guards alone (please!)
    IMHO, they don’t earn enough.
    I suppose SOCal could rely on day laborers and suffer the drownings.
    It’s a good gig, and well worth the money.

     

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