If you live a healthy lifestyle, and enjoy a good workout, then perhaps YMCA employment might be a good choice for you.
The original YMCA was founded in London in 1844, with the aim of providing “safe” housing facilities for young men from rural England who were newly arrived in the city. The history of the various international arms of the YMCA over the last 150 years would fill volumes, and was often a tale of religious and social activism, but none of that really need concern us much in our search for a job.
The YMCA here in the USA officially re-branded itself as simply “The Y” in 2010, and is for most practical purposes a secular, (that is, non-religious), chain of health clubs and social/community centers.
Let’s take a quick look at some of the more common job categories at The Y, and what they entail-
Administrative/Clerical – Any organization thrives on paperwork, except that less and less of it is actually on paper, as the years go by. You’ll need basic computer skills for this category, and at least basic familiarity with MS Office applications such as Excel, Access, and Word.
Child Care/Education – The Y is still primarily an organization for children and young people, and many of their locations offer after-school programs, child-care programs, and tutoring or other supplementary education programs.
Day Camp – The Y Day Camps have an endless need for energetic young people, preferably of an athletic inclination, to help run and organise these activities. This is an ideal job track for a Physical Education major.
Health and Fitness – This is a trainer and coach position, helping out in the fitness center, demonstrating proper and safe technique, answering questions, and assisting to correct unsafe behaviors. This is another ideal job track for a Physical Education major.
Recreation/Sports/Aquatics – Many Y’s include a pool or pools, and there is always a need for safety instructors, swimming instructors, lifeguards, and just general pool helpers. Any aquatics area also needs endless maintenance, both to keep pools safe and healthy, and also to avoid unsafe or unsightly conditions.
Resident Camps – Many Y’s also run summer camps or other similar activities; the word “resident” indicates an overnight stay. This is something very similar to the 6th grade camp most of us went to as youngsters. As such there are jobs for trail guides, cabin monitors, fire safety monitors, and teachers for a variety of classes in outdoorsmanship.
Social Services – Many Y’s also run social services programs of one sort or another, which may involve substance abuse counseling, marriage counseling, family planning services, career planning, or any of a variety of other similar programs. This would be an excellent job track for a major in the social or behavioral sciences.
Anonymous feedback from current and former employees at The Y reveals a respectable mid-range level of employee satisfaction. The same anonymous feedback shows that a solidly impressive 83% “approve of” CEO Neil Nicoll.
Getting That Job At The Y
The central careers site for The Y is at http://www.ymca.net/career-opportunities . But that’s not really very helpful for us, since they tell you very directly that you need to go to your local Y for all hourly positions. So, then, a more useful link is here (http://www.ymca.net/find-your-y/), where you can enter your zip code and find your local Y. Once you enter your zip code, you’ll see a list of The Y locations near you, and for each there is a link to “Visit this Y’s website now”. What results you get when you click that link will depend on your local Y, but there appears to be a standard template with a menu across the top of the page that includes a link for “Jobs”. Clicking that Jobs link should lead you to a page with a “YMCA Job Wizard” which will walk you through the process. Granted, I live in a major metropolitan area, but checking for part-time jobs in Aquatics, I found 8 positions within six miles of my house.
And now for a few odds and ends of information that may be helpful to you –
- Average wage for a Lifeguard is $8.71 per hour, with reports ranging from a low of $7.00 per hour to a high of $12.00 per hour.
- Average wage for a Summer Camp Counselor is $7.91 per hour, with reports ranging from a low of $7.00 per hour to a high of $9.00 per hour.
- Average wage for a Fitness Instructor is $13.19 per hour, with reports ranging from a low of $8.00 per hour to a high of $30.00 per hour.
- Average wage for a Personal Trainer is $13.36 per hour, with reports ranging from a low of $10.00 per hour to a high of $18.00 per hour.
- Most applicants report a very standard interview process consisting of two interviews, but some applicants report unusual interview techniques. For example, one batch of applicants at a group interview for Camp Counselor positions were given a collection of random objects and asked to create an obstacle course out of them. Other applicants were asked to give a 30-second “commercial” about themselves and why they should be hired.
- Sample interview question – “Which of the four core values (care, honesty, respect, responsibility) do you think is most important? “
- Sample interview question – “What is an accomplishment you’re proud of ?”
- Sample interview question – “What was the most difficult experience in your life, and how did you overcome it?”
- Sample interview question – “What is your general attitude toward disciplining children?”
- Sample interview question – “What would you do if one of your friends was on the pool deck drunk?” – Note that this question was asked of an applicant to a Lifeguard position.
And there you have a summary of what you need to know about applying for YMCA employment. It’s not the typical job, but if your career path is in the right direction, The Y can provide you with unique opportunities.