DEM is hiring Lifeguards, Park Rangers and Staff for State Beaches and Parks

Having boosted pay rates for lifeguards and beach managers, the RI Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today is launching its recruitment to staff state parks and beaches for the summer of 2019. With only 42 full-time employees managing 25 parks and preserves, eight saltwater beaches, and dozens of other properties, DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation relies hugely on seasonal employees. Every year, it hires between 400 and 450 “seasonals” to fill essential summertime positions such as lifeguards, park rangers, beach managers, restroom attendants, laborers, and nature educators.

“Our parks and beaches are loved not only for their beauty but also for their accessibility. Hiring a robust seasonal workforce factors significantly into keeping our special places special and accessible,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “It is our summer seasonal workers like lifeguards, park rangers, and restroom attendants who truly ‘make the experience’ for the nine million visits made by Rhode Islanders and out-of-staters who every year add about $350 million into the economy in consumer spending and taxes, and support nearly 4,000 jobs. This year, we’re thrilled to be able to kick off our recruitment by offering higher pay than ever for lifeguards and beach managers and flexible, 20-hour workweeks for lifeguard positions at our busiest swimming areas.”

Coit is referring to a pay raise just approved by the RI Department of Administration through which DEM can now pay lifeguards a range from $13.25 to $16.25 an hour – up from an hourly range of $10.75 to $13.75. DEM also has upped wages for beach managers, who ultimately are responsible for the safety of all patrons at state swimming areas and have the authority to close swimming areas in case of unsafe conditions. In 2018, DEM paid beach managers at non-surf beaches (examples: Goddard Memorial and Lincoln Woods state parks) $13 an hour and $14.25 an hour at surf (saltwater) beaches. This year, DEM is paying $15.50 an hour for non-surf managers and $16.75 an hour for surf managers. These rates will allow DEM to come closer to paying what private beach and pool clubs and some municipal beaches across Rhode Island pay to attract summertime workers.


Division of Parks & Recreation 2019 Seasonal Employee Wages


With 50 percent fewer teens seeking jobs than 20 years ago, DEM is looking to recruit active senior citizens and retired military personnel who might want to work part-time work to make up for the lack of younger applicants. The teen labor shortage in 2018 meant DEM had just enough employees needed to operate its more than 25 beaches, parks, and campgrounds but was stretched tight, with the Parks and Recreation Division having to shift lifeguards from one property to another to ensure adequate coverage during busy weekends of the high season. For example, the optimal number of lifeguards at Misquamicut State Beach is 27 but last year, DEM could fill only 22 spots. Optimally, East Matunuck State Beach has 20 lifeguards but had only 17 in 2018, and Goddard Memorial State Park had four fewer lifeguards than is ideal last summer (three versus seven).

DEM is seeking qualified lifeguards at beaches, parks, and campgrounds. Full-time lifeguard positions are available at all state swimming areas, including saltwater beaches such as Roger Wheeler and Scarborough, non-surf beaches such as Goddard, and freshwater beaches such as Burlingame Campground and Lincoln Woods State Park.

Rhode Island residents, ages 16 and older, are encouraged to apply. 

All lifeguard candidates must have successfully completed courses and hold valid cards in lifeguard training, first aid, and CPR including infant, child, and adult. For those who have not yet had accredited training, there are training classes offered at the Community College of Rhode Island. For more information on becoming a lifeguard, click here.

For a complete list of seasonal employment opportunities including park rangers, beach managers, laborers, recreational area assistants, and clerical support positions, please click here. Applicants to park ranger positions at levels II and III must be 18 years of age or older. Applications must be completed online at Paper applications will not be accepted. The State of Rhode Island is an Equal Opportunity / diversity employer.

DEM’s Division of Parks and Recreation participates in employment fairs at local colleges and high schools to recruit for all summer seasonal positions. DEM will appear at Bishop Hendricken High School today, the University of Rhode Island tomorrow, and the Community College of Rhode Island April 17. If your school is interested in hosting DEM at a job fair, contact Tom Rosa in the Division of Parks & Recreation at 667-6207 or email