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Swimming pool and spa operator certifications

Recognizing the need for trained operators to manage public and commercial pool facilities, the National Spa and Pool Foundation, developed the Certified Pool Operator Course.  NSPF is a non-profit organization whose stated interest is Research, Education and Safety in aquatics.  NSPF certifies as CPOs those persons who successfully completed the 16-hour course and pass the exam.  The CPO program instruction is widely accepted by health officials.  It is a national and international program.

National Recreation and Parks Association’s National Aquatic Section developed the Aquatic Facility Operator (AFO) Certification Course.  It is similar to the CPO program.  It is designed with the needs of public or community pool manager in mind.  To learn more about it, go to:

Topics covered during a CPO course include:

  • The CPO & state codes
  • Pool calculations
  • Water chemistry
  • Water testing & adjustment
  • Filtration & recirculation
  • Maintenance & operational problems
  • Seasonal pool care
  • Review & questions
  • Spas management
  • Pool management
  • Renovation & modernization
  • Energy management 
  • Diseases & accident prevention

NSPF offers the course in numerous locations throughout the year.  A schedule of courses and additional details on the CPO course can be found at:

Hotels, motels, apartment complexes, condominium associations, municipal pools, all commercial public pool facilities, high schools, colleges, universities, swim clubs and golf, tennis and fitness clubs that have pool or spa facilities should seriously consider having a CPO, AFO or similarly certified individual on their staff.  Some businesses or organizations may prefer to hire a contractor with certification.  Any contractor should be required to present evidence of liability and workers compensation insurance.  An attorney with experience in contract law can help you decide if a hold harmless agreement is also advisable.  In any event, certified operators should be required to annually present evidence that their certification is current.

As a part of routine/daily inspection, a CPO or APO would check such things as: drains, pool fittings, first aid kits, PH level, sanitation equipment, safety equipment, diving boards/slides, gates, deck area, dressing rooms, signs and pool chemicals; free Chlorine (CI) residual; and make additional inspections and corrections as necessary.

The success of your pool operations depends on the ability and performance of your staff, they should be qualified to maintain and manage the operation of the pool.  Operation and maintenance staff may include a pool engineer, locker room or bathhouse attendants, lifeguards, custodians, groundskeepers and other support personnel.  Never assume that these people are completely qualified to perform their jobs.  Take the time to supervise, counsel and train them. Records of such training and the inspection, testing and repair activities of a CFO or AFO can be helpful in defending claims.

Find more topics to help protect your business.