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Need for higher paying summer jobs impacts summer lifeguard staff

The movies make the job of a lifeguard look glamorous. But in Maine's beach communities, like Ogunquit, it's a challenge to fill those jobs.

OGUNQUIT (NEWS CENTER Maine) -- With rising tuition costs and college debt reaching a new record, young Mainers are looking for other summer jobs with higher pay.

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“A lot of beaches are having trouble filling the roles,” says J.P. Argenti, a lifeguard at Ogunquit Beach.

Argenti says in 2002 the starting pay for a lifeguard at Ogunquit Beach was $9 an hour. Now, the starting pay is $13 an hour. He says they are trying to increase it to $14.25.

Lifeguards are certified through the American Red Cross. It can cost $350 for those seeking certification for the first time, according to Argenti. He says when a lifeguard re-certifies, it costs less. Somewhere in the ballpark of $100 - $200, he estimates.

Each summer the town of Ogunquit employs 25 lifeguards. Eighteen are full-time and the rest are part-time. This year, the town allowed the pay rates to be shown on the job listing and Argenti says they saw an increase in the number of applications. He says some of the lifeguards are college students who need higher paying summer jobs, or need to work multiple jobs, to afford their college tuition.

"My dad is helping me, but I'm paying all my apartment rent on my own," says Alexander Lumenello, a lifeguard at Ogunquit Beach.

Lumenello also works at his family's restaurant to save up enough money for school.

"Usually I have one or no days off a week and some days I'll go from the beach ten to five and I'll be in the restaurant six to midnight."

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