Be Safe: Get to Know Your Crossing Guard

Pedestrian accident fatalities are on the rise, and school crossing guards play a critical role in ensuring child safety. Stationed at busy intersections, crossing guards are the ultimate public safety multitaskers, juggling oncoming traffic and pedestrians with ease. Many crossing guards also keep an eye out for strangers loitering around the school, and help ensure a general safe environment for students.

Crossing guards come from all walks of life, although many are retirees who enjoy the excitement of serving as a part-time guard. If you’re a grandparent, there’s no better way to spend time with your grandkids and get to know their friends than safely guiding them to and from school each day. Spending time outside in the fresh air also makes part-time work as a crossing guard a popular choice, especially in a sunshine state like Florida.

The Duties

Most crossing guards serve two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon, depending on the school district’s hours. Guards typically receive compensation for their hard work ($25 to $35 per day, on average), and some may even receive retirement benefits depending on the number of years served.

Crossing guard assignments vary based on the state, but assignments are normally busy intersections. These intersections see at least 40 school pedestrians or more in a two-hour period. Guards need to be in good physical shape, and be capable of standing for up to two hours at a time. Guards wear a reflective vest, carry a stop sign, stand in the middle of the intersection, and safely escort children across the street.

The biggest challenge faced by a crossing guard is the inclement weather. From thunderstorms to snowstorms, crossing guards work in all weather conditions to protect children’s safety. Some even give a hand to stranded motorists, helping to push stalled cars to the nearest gas station. As any crossing guard will tell you, there’s never a dull day on the job.

Making the Grade

Think you’re up for the challenge of serving as a crossing guard? Becoming a crossing guard may require a background investigation, pre-employment drug screening, and the successful completion of a polygraph test, depending on state regulations.

Candidates will also likely need to complete a crossing guard training course, depending on state requirements. For example, Florida residents will need to complete an eight-hour crossing guard and child safety course from the Florida Department of Transportation. This course includes six hours of classroom instruction and two hours of field training. The course is designed to help crossing guards become familiar with standard safety protocol and gain real-world experience. Other states, such as California, provide training through the local police department.

What is the best part of the job? According to Anne, a crossing guard in Palm Beach, it’s receiving a big hug from students at the end of the day. Nothing beats a heartwarming hug as a “thank you” for a job well done.