What with tuition fees, rent and a busy social calendar, being a student can be draining on the expenses. These are supposed to be the ‘best years of your life’, or so you’ve been told.
But unless you want to eat baked beans on toast all month – which actually is a very healthy addition to a balanced diet – you’re going to need some extra income from somewhere.
Don’t fancy wiping tables or stacking shelves? We spoke to recent graduate Fiona who gave us her 5 reasons why teaching swimming is the perfect student job.
Most swimming lessons during the week take place between 3 and 7. So unless you’re unfortunate enough to have 5 pm lectures every day (ouch!), this should be the perfect time to do some teaching between your own lectures and your evening activity, be it working hard or playing hard.
“It was easy fitting in swimming teaching with my studies,” Fiona told us. “My lectures finished early afternoon then I taught from 4 pm and had the opportunity to work on a Saturday morning if I needed extra money.”
Okay, so we’re not saying you’re going to transform your life into one of luxury, throwing cash around campus and generally toasting the finer things in life as your chortle with your chums about not having to pay council tax, or not having to pay full price at Domino’s.
But, compared to the minimum wage of many bar and shop jobs, you’re going to have a much fuller wallet at the end of a shift. ASA Level 1 Assistant Swimming Teachers typically earn around £9.74/hr and ASA Level 2 Swimming teachers earn an average of £14.89/hr compared to the £6.73/hr average for lifeguards. Find out more information about pay here.
“The hourly rate was great,” said Fiona. “I was earning around double that of my friends who mostly worked minimum wage part-time jobs in shops, bars and restaurants.
“I also earned more than my older brother who was a lifeguard. It meant I could reduce my hours and still have enough money to go out with my friends and treat myself to a well-earned holiday after exams.”
So staff perks aren’t exactly unique to working at a swimming pool. But while a staff discount at Jack Wills is nothing to be sniffed at, we prefer the potential plus sides to working at a leisure centre.
“I got the benefits of free swimming and use of the sauna at some of the places I worked,” recalls Fiona. “One of my friends was lucky enough to also spend the summer breaks working abroad, teaching swimming for kid’s holiday camps.”
If you think teaching and talking to a group of children isn’t transferable to making presentations or taking interviews, you’re wrong. Confidence talking to people – and influencing them – is a quality all employers are looking for.
“Teaching swimming helped me in lots of unexpected ways,” Fiona said. “It developed my confidence in speaking in front of groups of people. When you’re working with children you have to capture their attention and be able to control the situation.
“When it came to my final year of Uni and the daunting task of applying for graduate roles, I was able to use a lot of my experience through the application process and felt confident during the assessment days.”
Admittedly, this fifth point isn’t necessarily a student-specific reason to become a swimming teacher. But it’s relevant nonetheless. Helping a child learn the crucial life skill of swimming and develop their confidence in the water is a hugely rewarding experience and a feeling that sticks with some people for the rest of their life.
“My first experience teaching swimming was at my local pool when they were looking for a volunteer to help with a children’s swimming lesson,” said Fiona.
“At first, I was nervous as I’d never worked with children before. But seeing their confidence grow and how much they enjoyed swimming spurred me on to get my ASA Level 1 qualification.
“Level 1 Swimming Assistant, I started getting paid and was funded to get my ASA Level 2 qualification.”
Inspired by Fiona’s story and convinced that teaching swimming is an excellent way of earning some money on the side?
There are two qualifications you will need to start your journey.
The Swim England Level 1 Swimming Assistant course is the first step and allows you to support a fully qualified swimming teacher. You can either take a four-day face to face course or a 2 day blended learning course which combines around 6 hrs of online material with 2 days of face to face workshops.
Once you’ve completed this course its best to gain at least 3 months experience before moving on to the Swim England Level 2 Teaching Swimming course.
Typically, initial qualifications cost around £395, but don’t let a lack of funds stand in the way. Demand for swimming teachers is high so some employers will part-fund you through the qualification.
If you want to get some experience before you book your course, try contacting your local swim school or pool and volunteer your time to see if you enjoy it first. You can find your local pool on Pool Finder.
When you first start you will probably work in a learn to swim programme in a swim school or leisure centre as an assistant swimming teacher.
You will be under the supervision of a Level 2 qualified teacher to deliver swimming lessons to children and adults. You will help to teach wannabe swimmers how to move and be safe in the water.
Your job will be to assist in the teaching of basic skills. Other tasks might include laying out the equipment ready for lessons and making sure buoyancy aids are safely fitted.
It won’t be till you complete your Swim England Level 2 qualification that you’ll start to run the swimming lessons.