A pool attendant is typically hired to maintain a pool, the water within it and the surrounding area. Some employers also require pool attendants to supervise entry to and exit from a secure pool facility. Basically, pool attendants are facilities maintenance managers. They should not be confused with lifeguards, who are responsible for the health and safety of the patrons in the pool and are required to hold special certifications.
Public pools are typically regulated recreational facilities. They must be properly managed, otherwise the sharing of bathing water by groups of swimmers can create biological hazards that sicken people and transmit disease. The most important aspect of pool maintenance is the changing chemistry of the water. Chemicals, such as chlorine, must be constantly added to pool water to kill bacteria and other harmful things so the water is suitable for swimming. The amount of chemicals that must be added changes based on the number of people in the water, the atmospheric temperature and other variables.
Pool attendants take water readings hourly to ensure that the water chemistry remains within safe guidelines. If the readings change, the attendant must adjust the mechanical system to deliver more chemicals into the water. The pool attendant is also responsible for the color and clarity of the water. These aspects are related to the pool's water filtration system. Water color and clarity also requires pool attendants to skim the water with a net to keep large items from dirtying the water or entering the filter system.
In short, the most important duties of pool attendants are to maintain the water's chemistry, clarity and color. If an attendant fails in any of these duties, it can result in catastrophic health consequences for swimmers. Poor water maintenance can also cause the jurisdiction's health department to close the facility and fine the owner.
Beyond water maintenance, pool attendants are often required to clean and maintain the deck and any bathrooms or changing facilities in the pool area. Attendants are often required to oversee pool equipment, such as deck chairs and flotation devices, and to arrange for proper storage at the end of the day. In some instances, a pool attendant is also the person controlling entry into the pool area by collecting money or tickets.
It is important to distinguish between a pool attendant and a lifeguard. It is possible to hold both positions at once but not usually advisable. Pool attendants spend time every hour taking water readings and attending to the water filtration system that is usually located somewhere indoors. Lifeguards must keep their eyes on the water at all times to prevent drownings. The two positions are complimentary but require different functional skills.