What is the Certified Pool/Spa Operator® Certification Program
CPO® certification courses are designed to provide individuals with the basic knowledge, techniques, and skills of pool and spa operations. The Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification program has delivered more training than any other program in the pool and spa industry since 1972, resulting in more than 342,623 successful CPO® certifications in 86 countries. Many state and local health departments accept the CPO® certification program.
Instructors receive comprehensive training and certification to teach the CPO® certification program. These instructors represent every segment in the aquatics industry including operators, health officials, service professionals, builders, manufacturers, property managers, retailers, and academicians. This training has helped protect millions of swimmers by reducing hazards at aquatic facilities.
- The CPO® certification program requires participation in either a two-day class (14-16 hours) taught by a certified instructor or the blended format that combines the online Pool Operator Primer™ and one day of the Pool Operator Fusion™ class of instruction
- The CPO® certification program includes pool and spa chemistry, testing, treatment, filtration, maintenance, automatic feeding equipment, and government requirements
- The CPO® certification program requires an open book written examination
- The CPO® certification is valid for five years
- Proven educational tool
- Widely accepted by local and state authorities
- Covers topics necessary for pool operators including a section for local and state codes
- Comprehensive handbook that is updated regularly
- All courses are taught by NSPF® certified instructors
- The CPO® certification is recognized nationally and internationally
- Gives participants a better understanding of the operator’s role in pool care, management and risk reduction
- The CPO® Certification program is now eligible for IACET Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
CPO® Certification Blended Training
The NSPF® Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) Certification program, the world's leading verifiable pool and spa training credential, is now available as a blended training program.
Pool Operator Primer™
This online training program can be the first step to earning CPO® Certification or, it can be excellent stand-alone education in the fundamentals of pool operation. This online curriculum follows the 18 chapters in the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook, which is provided. Students have access to the Pool Operator Primer online course for six months, which gives them the opportunity to review the material many times.
Successful completion of the Pool Operator Primer earns a Record of Completion. If you choose to pursue the CPO® Certification, contact Brian Gangelhoff an NSPF® Instructor to enroll in a Pool Operator Fusion™ class within six months of completing the Pool Operator Primer.
Pool Operator Fusion™
This one-day class is offered by certified NSPF® Instructors and is an economical and convenient way to achieve the CPO® Certification. This one-day class can either be the second day of any two-day classroom certification course, or it can be a stand-alone one-day Pool Operator Fusion™ class.
Sign up for a Fusion class by contacting an NSPF® Instructor or go to the class schedule page to find a class near you. Students must present a Pool Operator Primer™ Record of Completion and successfully complete the Pool Operator Fusion™ class to obtain a CPO® Certification.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I obtain Certified Pool/Spa Operator® (CPO®) certification?
There are two ways that you can obtain Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification.
- You may take the on-line Pool Operator Primer™ training which follows the 18 chapters in the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook, which is provided with your registration. You must then attend a one-day classroom Pool Operator Fusion™ course offered by a certified instructor. At the end of the one-day classroom course, you must successfully complete an open book exam with a minimum score of 75%.
Taking only the on-line Pool Operator Primer™ course does NOT provide Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification. In order to become certified, you will need to complete both the Pool Operator Primer™ and Pool Operator Fusion™ courses.
- You may also choose the option of attending and successfully completing a traditional 14- to 16-hour classroom course.
NSPF® Instructors will be able to provide you with information on either of the two above options.
How do I find a CPO® certification class?
You can locate a Certified Pool/Spa Operator® class by visiting the NSPF® web site course schedule page [http://nspf.org/CPO_Courses.html]. When you have located the class in which you are interested, please contact the instructor directly at the telephone number or e-mail address listed to find out information about the cost, specific location, etc.
What is the cost of a CPO® certification class?
The cost of a certification class varies by instructor and location. NSPF® recommends that you review the complete course listing on the course schedule page [http://nspf.org/CPO_Courses.html]. After you have located a class in your area in which you are interested, please contact the instructor directly for information on cost, how to register for a class, etc.
Does the state I live in require CPO® certification?
The requirement for pool and spa operator certification is determined by each individual state health department. You should contact the health department in your state to determine its training requirements.
You may also visit the NSPF® web site Pool/Spa Codes page to review codes from various state health departments.
When does my CPO® certification expire?
CPO® certification is valid for five years from the date you were certified. Locate the class date on your certificate or wallet card and add five years. You must complete another certification process on or before that date in order for your Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification to remain active.
How do I renew my CPO® certification?
There are three ways that you can renew your CPO® certification.
- You may take the 2-Day classroom course or both the on-line Pool Operator Primer™ training and the one-day classroom Pool Operator Fusion™ course offered by a certified instructor. At the end, you must successfully complete an open book exam with a minimum score of 75%. (NOTE: If your CPO® certification has expired, this is the only option for recertification.)
- You may take the online Pool Operator Primer™ course and make arrangements with an NSPF® Instructor to administer the open-book CPO® certification exam for you. You must have a minimum score of 75% on the exam to recertify. (NOTE: Your CPO® certification must not be expired to recertify this way.)
- If available, you may take a one day review course taught by an NSPF® Instructor with the certification exam at the end. You must have a minimum score of 75% on the exam to recertify. (NOTE: Your CPO® certification must not be expired to recertify this way.)
NSPF® Instructors will be able to provide you with information on any of the above options.
A person may renew their CPO® certification by one of the following methods:
Full 2-Day Classroom Course
Minimum 75% on
1-day Review (Classroom Course)
Current CPO® certification
Minimum 75% on
Current CPO® certification + Pool Operator PrimerTM
Sit exam with instructor
Minimum 75% on
A list of upcoming classroom courses and Pool Operator Fusion™ courses can be found on the Course Schedule page Here. When you have located the course in which you are interested, please contact the instructor directly at the e-mail address or telephone number displayed or information on registration, etc.
Why do I have to take the CPO® certification class again? I have been certified for years! Why can’t I just take the test?
There are several reasons NSPF® requires individuals to take the CPO® certification class again after five years.
- New technologies and issues commonly enter our field. Topics like UV disinfection, cryptosporidium outbreaks, automated probe technologies, more advanced test kits, and new data on filtration are very important and were not covered to any great extent five or ten years ago.
- Many people who have received CPO® certification do not practice nor are they exposed to certain operational tasks or technologies. It is important that professionals be exposed to a broad operations review to refresh knowledge in certain areas.
- The NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook is updated regularly to ensure that new technologies are incorporated. The handbook is expanded to allow operators to search for material that goes beyond the material covered in the CPO® certification course.
- Regulations change periodically. A portion of the CPO® certification course covers local and federal regulations to make sure the student is aware of any changes.
- It is common practice that professionals in various fields must verify knowledge.
How do I get a duplicate copy of my certificate?
If you have misplaced your certificate and/or wallet card and your Certified Pool/Spa Operator® certification is still valid, a replacement certificate and wallet card is available for $10 for the set. You may place your order by telephone (719.540.9119), FAX (719.540.2787), or mail (4775 Granby Circle, Colorado Springs, CO 80919). If submitting your order by FAX or mail, please include your certification number (if known). NSPF® is not able to issue copies of certificates for those whose certifications have expired.
Can a copy of my certification be sent by FAX or e-mail?
For a nominal cost of $10, NSPF® will be glad to provide you with an original copy of your certificate and wallet card. After purchase and confirmation of pertinent information, an original copy of the certificate and wallet card will be mailed to the address which you have on file at NSPF® headquarters. We are not able to fax or email CPO® certifications.
I got married or divorced. How do I change the name my certificate?
Please provide the National Swimming Pool Foundation® with documentation of the name change. We will be glad to update our records. For a nominal charge of $10, we can supply you with a replacement certificate/wallet card.
After I have completed the Pool Operator Primer™ on-line training and am scheduled to attend a Pool Operator Fusion™ class, what do I need to bring with me to the class?
- The original Record of Completion which you printed at the conclusion of the Pool Operator Primer™ on-line training. You will need to present this document to the instructor at the beginning of the class and sign it in his/her presence. The instructor will also sign and date the Record of Completion. The Record of Completion will be retained by the instructor and submitted along with your completed exam at the end of the class.
- Current government-issued photo identification. This photo identification must be presented to the instructor when he/she accepts the Record of Completion at the beginning of the class and again during the exam period.
What is the most current edition of the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook?
The National Swimming Pool Foundation® strives to update the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook as significant developments occur in the pool and spa industry. Instructors teach classes with the most up-to-date material possible. Please contact NSPF® headquarters if you require a specific publication date.
How can I become a National Swimming Pool Foundation® Instructor?
Only those who are 18 years of age or older and who have been Certified Pool-Spa Operator® certified for a minimum of six months will be considered for participation in an NSPF® Instructor training school.
If you meet the above requirements, you may register for an upcoming NSPF® Instructor training class. Classes are normally held a minimum of four times per year at various locations around the United States. A complete class schedule and registration forms may be found on the Instructor Class Schedule page [http://nspf.org/Instructor.html].
The NSPF® Instructor training class focuses on evaluating two major factors:
- An individual’s ability to teach the contents of the NSPF® Pool & Spa Operator™ Handbook
- The technical and methodological knowledge of the instructor candidate
There is no guarantee that all class participants will pass and become certified instructors.