NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Lifeguarding Proves Lucrative in Southern California

May 16, 2011

High pay and benefits for lifeguards in Newport Beach, Calif., is the latest example of frustrating levels of compensation for public employees, says the Orange County Register.

  • More than half the city's full-time lifeguards are paid a salary of over $100,000; this is compared with the county annual median household income of $71,735.
  • According to a city report on lifeguard pay for the calendar year 2010, of the 14 full-time lifeguards, 13 collected more than $120,000 in total compensation; one lifeguard collected $98,160.
  • More than half the lifeguards collected more than $150,000 for 2010 with the two highest-paid collecting $211,451 and $203,481 in total compensation respectively.
  • Even excluding benefits like health care and pension, more than half the lifeguards receive a total salary, including overtime pay, exceeding $100,000.
  • They also receive an annual allowance of $400 for "sun protection."

On face, the compensation packages for these guards are staggering.  But take into consideration the retirement benefits being paid to currently retired lifeguards and lifeguards who will retire at these pay levels in the future and the problem is further compounded.  Lifeguards are able to retire with 90 percent of their salary, after only 30 years of work as early as the age of 50, says the Register.

Source: Brian Calle, "Lifeguarding in OC Is Totally Lucrative; Some Make over $200k," Orange County Register, May 10, 2011.

For text:


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues