Why do Los Angeles beach lifeguards earn as much as $510,000 a year? It became a topic of discussion on the 31st.

The non-profit organization OpenTheBooks.com found that last year, 98 Los Angeles beach lifeguards earned at least $200,000, with 20 earning between $300,000 and $512,830; 37 lifeguards earned between $50,000 and $247,000 in overtime pay alone.

The highest-paid lifeguard last year was Daniel Douglas, whose total compensation was $512,830, up from $442,712 in 2020. Douglas is a lifeguard captain whose income exceeds that of over a thousand peers; his annual income includes a salary of $150,540, allowances of $28,661, benefits of $85,508, and overtime pay of up to $246,060.

As for the second-highest-paid lifeguard captain, Fernando Boiteux earned $463,517 last year, up from $393,137 the previous year.

But what's most astonishing is the overtime pay; in just the past year, 37 lifeguards earned overtime pay ranging from $50,000 to $247,000. Among them, Douglas earned $246,060 in overtime pay; James Orr earned $146,506; Patrick O’Neil earned $133,235; and five others earned six-figure overtime pay.

In fact, over the six years from 2016 to 2021, the overtime pay expenses of the Los Angeles lifeguard team were staggering; the top three highest earners alone earned between $505,579 and $987,000 in overtime pay; Douglas received $987,000 in overtime pay over six years; Jaro Spopek received $513,365; Orr received $505,579.

This is only their current cash income; Los Angeles lifeguards who serve for 30 years and reach the age of 55 can receive retirement benefits equivalent to 79% of their salary.

Lifeguards occupy a rather unique cultural niche, with their role lying somewhere between "beach guardians" and beach bums, or perhaps between seasoned veterans and youthful adventurers. They are busy on beaches crowded with people, typically with backgrounds as elite swimmers, but their work largely consists of sitting, getting tanned, and constantly watching the crowd.

"Unlike most beaches in California and the East Coast, where lifeguards generally sit alone, the veterans at Jones Beach sit in groups of seven or eight on specially made stands," Donaldson wrote. "Newcomers and part-time lifeguards usually work alone, while full-time and experienced lifeguards sit together, discussing water conditions or chatting. During working hours, they take turns sitting for an hour on the stand and spending another hour exercising or surfing."

But there are always moments when action needs to be taken, which are usually sudden and extremely risky. Lifeguards dash into the water with buoyant rescue tubes, while others stand by and watch.

Overall, the high salaries of beach lifeguards make the salaries of all their colleagues who rescue people in pools pale in comparison; the highest-paid pool lifeguard, including benefits, earns only $45,030.