Finding the right part-time job is tough. How do you find something flexible that will comfortably fit in around your studies? And what about the pay – does anyone offer more than minimum wage?
While there aren’t many jobs that do, there is one job that tops the list in terms of flexibility, pay and satisfaction. Curious to find out more? We spoke to four students about why they decided to teach swimming alongside their studies – here’s what they told us.
You can train to become a swimming teacher from a fairly young age. If you’re sixteen or over and have a passion for swimming, you’re good to go.
The first step on your journey to becoming a fully-qualified instructor is to gain the SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant qualification; this is so you can support and assist a teacher. You’ll be mentored and supported throughout this, while you learn about the responsibilities of assisting, the theory behind the teaching and get some first-hand experience supporting lessons.
Rebbeka Gill is studying for her A-levels before starting uni in September but is also working towards her swimming qualification in her spare time. She explains why she loves it: “I’m currently a swimming assistant but I’ll be qualifying as a teacher in the summer. Doing this will help me support myself financially through uni – and I absolutely love it!”
Daniel Hodgson is a third year BSc Sports Science student at Teesside University but has also worked as a pool and beach lifeguard for five years. “I think teaching allows you to show off your skills, all while making you look good to future employers,” he says. “Teaching has helped me learn skills like effective communication, organisation, problem-solving and independence, to name a few. These are what employers are looking for – I’ve noticed in interviews I get lots more questions about my teaching experience than any other area.”
Part-time jobs aren’t usually synonymous with ‘flexibility’ – you’ll likely get drafted in to work double weekend shifts and be expected to make it work. But with teaching swimming, you get to pick and choose your own hours, so you can comfortably slot shifts in around your studies.
Lucy Mangan is a first year maths student and was lucky enough to have a swimming pool on her university’s campus. She says: “I also teach at a local private school and it’s just about balancing your time – it’s super easy to slot in a two hour shift instead of just watching a film, for example. Most swim teaching shifts are relatively short and are easy to fit into your schedule.”
Rebekka also finds it quite easy to fit her shifts around her A-levels. She explains how she manages it: “I use my free time wisely, which often means studying on Saturdays and more in the school holidays, because then I can work evening shifts.”
Daniel finds his uni timetable also works well with lesson timings. “The children and adults I teach are within the learn 2 swim programme, which specifically targets school kids and adults,” he says. “Because the children don’t finish school until the afternoon, it means I can fit in lessons really easily with my university timetable.”
Unlike a typical student job, teaching children to swim isn’t a stationary position; there are always opportunities to progress, gain more skills, take on more responsibilities and earn more money. Progressing to the SEQ Level 2 Swimming Teacher qualification lets you teach swimming lessons independently.
Lucy undertook her level 1 and 2 teaching at the age of sixteen, after previously being involved with her local swimming club via a voluntary programme. “I really enjoyed taking a step into a different side of the sport,” she says. “It was a great way to give back to the club that had done so much for me. I stopped competing, swam for fun and taught!”
The more you progress, the more you can earn! After being level 2 qualified and teaching independently, the average pay of a swimming teacher increases to around £13 an hour. (Check out this full breakdown of what you can earn on the salary checker for swimming teachers and coaches.)
Based on ten hours per week, Daniel estimated he earnt around £7,000 over the course of the year. Rebbeka also explains that, while her pay can be varied, teaching swimming helped her save for driving lessons, buy a car with insurance and keep on top of her phone bill each month.
Teaching swimming means you’re helping someone learn a skill they’ll be able to use for life – it’s certainly one of the more rewarding part-time jobs out there.
Amelia Lawrence-Downs is studying Physical Education in Secondary Years at the University of Chichester. To manage both her swim teaching and her studies, she teaches at weekends. She explains her favourite thing about teaching: “I love seeing how happy the kids are when they’ve finally learnt the skill and it becomes second nature. Just seeing them that happy fills me with fulfilment.”
Lucy adds: “I love that swimming is such an inclusive sport. So many people can benefit from swimming, as well as other aquatic sports. It’s never too late to learn and it’s so accessible to so many people!”
Sound like something you’d be interested in? Find out more about how to become a swimming teacher.