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Wage Watchers: How much does a student lifeguard earn?

11:49 07/03/2014
Jens Heremans, 22, from Mechelen, talks about what he earns and how he spends it.

What do you do?
During weekends and summer break I work as a lifeguard at De Nekker Provincial Sport and Recreation Centre in Mechelen. I keep watch on both the swimming pool as well as the open-air field. During summer months the facilities get really packed, and you have to keep an eye on everything all while making sure everyone follows the rules. Many people underestimate how challenging this job can be. They think we are only here to improve our tan lines, but really its no laid-back job.

Do you enjoy the work?
As a student in human nutrition, this job is really an extension of my studies.  It’s a great student job because you get to meet so many new people. Plus, any desk or retail job would be too boring.  As a lifeguard you’re always occupied with several tasks and changing post locations. This variation makes the time go by quickly.

How many hours do you work a week?
As a student, I only work weekends and summer vacation. There are three shifts to split up among eight lifeguards: 9.00-18.00 and 10.00-19.00, working at most until 20.00 at night. Permanent full-time workers work until 22.30. You are therefore working nine-hour shifts, which is really tiring given that you must constantly be attentive and on your feet. I work on average 10 days a month, during summer vacation a bit more.

What do you think of the pay?
I’m quite happy with what I earn: €11 an hour, which comes to €100 for each day worked and a net monthly salary of €752. That does not differ much from what permanent full-time workers earn. Also your transport costs are reimbursed if you do not live in Mechelen.

Would you change your job if it meant earning more money?
For a seasonal job, my job is wonderful. I know many of my colleagues really well already and meet new people every day. Also, apart from income, this job provides me with important networking opportunities. There’s no question that I’ll continue with this job until the end of my studies, when I hope to get a job in education.

Do you manage to save?
I’ve already put some money aside, part of which will go to a future vacation.

What do you like to spend money on?
Sports accessories.  I play basketball and often like to buy the clothes and gear.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
I would stop my seasonal job, but not my studies. Only after getting my diploma would I take a couple of years to enjoy my winnings before joining the work force.