If you love swimming and you enjoy sharing your knowledge of this popular sport and your experience in the pool, you may have considered becoming a swimming instructor.
Whether you're working at a swim school or running private 'learn to swim' lessons, and whether you're teaching adults, teens, children or parents with babies, many swimming instructors speak of the great level of satisfaction they get, just knowing they've helped someone learn a potentially life-saving skill.
And, right now in Australia, there is a little extra incentive — employability.
It doesn't matter whether you're aiming for a full time career, a part time job you can ease into retirement with or a casual school holiday and after school position, the fact is that there is currently a national swimming instructor shortage.
As Australia emerged from the COVID pandemic, coming out of lockdown ahead of the 2021 summer, and with the local swimming pool able to open normally for the first time in over two years, the aquatic industry was left reeling from the news that they were in need of well over 2000 instructors. Reduced instructor availability means less opportunity for swimming lessons; a lower number of children and adults able to access swimming lessons may lead to an increase in drownings and water related accidents and injuries.
Why this sudden shortage?
The aquatic industry really struggled throughout the pandemic. Pools were closed and most swimming teachers were not eligible for JobKeeper so were forced to seek alternative employment. Many did not return.
What does this mean for me?
If you already have the required qualifications, you may well have a ready-made job waiting for you. If you don't, both Swim Australia and AUSTSWIM have been putting on extra training sessions to help people get qualified faster in order to fill instructor and lifeguard vacancies.
I'm not so sure I want to work as a swimming instructor ...
Fair enough. If you're undecided because you're unsure what you'd be in for, this is the article for you.
In the next few minutes, we're going to take a look at the advantages of swimming teacher jobs in different sectors of the aquatic industry — and the disadvantages. Our aim is to give you a well-balanced view of the job so you can make an informed decision. After all, being a swimming instructor is a big commitment, which affords a lot of responsibility along with both job and personal satisfaction.
The Best Things About Being a Swimming Coach
As with most teaching jobs, the reward for the teacher comes after all the hard work — the satisfaction of seeing your students grow in confidence and skill. But what are the other benefits of working as a swimming instructor or coach?
The training to become a swimming instructor is only around 3 months in length. After this time, you are qualified and can start teaching. You can also easily gain extra qualifications that allow you to specialise in the area you most enjoy, working with or coaching students of your preferred age and ability.
The nature of this role, and the types of students you will be teaching or coaching, means that swimming teacher jobs are perfect for people who need some flexibility when it comes to the hours they work. You can work full time in this job but the vast majority of instructors and coaches work part time or casual roles. Depending on the students you are teaching or coaching, you may find yourself coaching elite squad students in the early hours of the morning, running lessons with adults at midday or teaching a learn to swim program with school-aged children after school until early evening.
Completing the basic, entry-level qualification to be a swimming teacher with Swim Australia or AUSTSWIM, allows swim teachers to work in any state in Australia and in many overseas countries. The only addition is your Working with Vulnerable People check or your Working with Children Check as each state has their own check that must be completed. Other than this, if you wish to follow the sun, you certainly can.
Fun work environment
You love the water, otherwise you wouldn't be here now. How wonderful to be able to spend your working hours in a setting you love, having fun with your students while teaching them water safety skills!
If you're one of those people who crave challenge and change, swimming teacher jobs are perfect because no two days, in fact, no two lessons are ever the same. This is because your lessons are centred around your students, their development and their individual needs.
There are a few perceived negatives you should be aware of, including:
- the requirement to update your training and accreditation at least every 3 years
- the tricky nature of some children (and their parents)
- on and off-seasons for swimming tend to make work a bit erratic.
However, if you are aware of any disadvantages before you start the job, you will be better prepared to deal with them.
You should be aware that you will not be the perfect fit for all students. Inevitably, there will be personality clashes. Perhaps your particular teaching style does not suit certain students? You can persevere and get to know the student or adapt your teaching style, however, never be afraid to suggest a different instructor if you feel your students aren't progressing or your lessons are disrupted.
What about the difference between working for myself offering private lessons and working for a swim school or club teaching their program?
Benefits of Private Swimming Teacher Jobs
Working for yourself as a private swimming teacher or coach is the dream for many people. You can set your own work hours, decide which students you will work with (including their level and the group size), devise your own program and set your prices. You really don't have to answer to anyone — except your students.
Most swim instructors who run their own businesses tend to offer private, one-on-one lessons. Working one-on-one with a student has great advantages. The instructor can build up a strong rapport with their students as they are able to give their full attention to them. This is particularly important for students who may be very nervous in the water or who have previously had a bad experience in their swimming lessons. One-on-one instruction also allows students to progress their skills development and swimming competency at a faster rate as their lessons are all about them.
Here are a few factors you need to consider if you're wondering about whether to go into business yourself as a private swim teacher or work for a swim school or club. Depending on your background and personal preferences, you may see them as advantages or disadvantages.
- Proper insurances, such as public liability insurance, are expensive but essential should something go wrong.
- The location of your lessons needs to be determined as a priority. Teaching in a public aquatic centre may not be an option, especially if they run their own swim school.
- Students will come to you once you have established a reputation, however, until then you will need to set about finding students, which requires a lot of leg work.
- Setting a price that is both competitive and affordable for students. Remember to factor in travel, training, equipment hire, insurance and preparation time.
Advantages of Teaching at a Swim School
As mentioned earlier in this article, Australia is currently in the grip of a swimming teacher shortage. This means that finding a job at a swim school is likely to be very easy if you have the required qualifications.
The biggest advantage of working for a swim school is that all the administrative work — finding students, setting prices, timetabling, program and lesson development — is taken out of your hands. Your job is to turn up and teach your students.
The swimming school you work for should also cover you in terms of safety and insurance.
If you would prefer to devise your own lessons, adapting them specifically to student needs, then a swim school, with its predetermined program for teaching and assessment, is probably going to frustrate you. You may want to ask if you can work with private students in a one-to-one lesson format.
If your personal timetable is a bit 'all over the place' then the swim school's timetable structure might also be a problem.
Weighing up the pros and cons of private instruction versus working for a swim school or other swimming program is an important step when you're considering a job as a swimming instructor or coach. Once you've found your niche and it works for you, then this job will be the one to take you places.
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