NEWARK, N.J. (PIX11)– It’s not easy, but the work is rewarding. 15-year-old Nigel Williams is learning that now.

“You’re guarding someone’s life,” said Williams, a freshman at St. Benedict’s Prep School in Newark. “You’re trying to save them. You can’t really mess around on the job. You have to be very serious in the work environment. Always looking out, always scanning – they teach you about that.”

It’s noble and needed. Williams and other students and faculty are training to become American Red Cross-certified lifeguards.

“I’m 15. I’m a younger age,” said Williams. “I’m becoming more mature as I take this course because I’m learning that it’s not just my life. It’s not just me. It’s someone else’s life.”

The training hopes to address a nationwide shortage that won’t end.

“I think it’s tough for different communities to find the classes,” said St. Benedict’s Director of Aquatics and lifeguard instructor, Nicolle Jasbon.

Getting certified can be expensive; in some cases, it can cost nearly $400. Jasbon is offering the course to school students and faculty at a fraction of the cost, $100, hoping to put a dent in some disparities.

The American Red Cross lifeguard course is not for the faint of heart – it is a rigorous, 4-day course involving instruction both in the classroom and the pool.

Once certified, many of these lifeguards will work at pools in underserved communities in Essex County. Jasbon’s next lifeguard class is already full and has a waitlist.

“I think it’s a very feel-good job,” said Jasbon. “You get to help someone out, you get to stay active, and you get to be part of a team.”