The PHTA Certified Pool Operator (CPO) Certification is designed to train aquatic professionals in pools and spas' operation, maintenance, and safety. The CPO certification program is the world’s leading education and certification program for keeping pools safer and keeping them open. Over 400,000 students have been trained since 1972.

Having a CPO on staff and present while the pool is open will lead to the following:

  1. Longer-lasting mechanical equipment
  2. Prevented injuries
  3. Compliance with state/local codes


Longer Lasting Mechanical Equipment

Through routine inspections, preventative maintenance, and good water chemistry, your swimming pool will avoid being shut down due to injuries and maintenance costs. The manufacturer creates a routine inspection program and preventative maintenance schedule for each piece of equipment. While keeping up with your pool’s equipment will cost money, it will be much lower than a full replacement of the equipment.

Additionally, good water chemistry will avoid corrosive and scaling environments that will lead to pitting in pool plaster, corroding pump impellers, and scale build-up in pool piping. You may see an increase in injury reports on cuts and scrapes from the bottom of the pool; this may indicate that water chemistry has not been watched carefully.

The CPO course will address these issues so you are better informed on what equipment is present in a pump room, how to test water chemistry, and how to resolve poor water chemistry.

Prevented Injuries

Drownings, waterborne illnesses, and suction entrapments are preventable injuries through proper pool and spa maintenance. Through poor water chemistry, water will become cloudy, making it impossible to see an unresponsive person at the bottom of the pool. The Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival (CARES) released 2021’s cardiac arrest data that showed 8.8% of cardiac arrests in children under 18 were due to drowning or submersions compared to less than 1% in adults. All drownings can be prevented through the watchful eye of a parent or guardian, but we, as aquatics professionals, can help by keeping water clear and posting lifeguards where appropriate.

Additionally, many reported cases of waterborne illnesses have spread to children and adults. Most of these illnesses are preventable through proper water disinfection, and all of these are preventable if the pool operator is well educated on handling blood, vomit, and fecal releases.

Compliance with state/local codes

PHTA has reported that 25 states and the District of Columbia require pool operator training. Not only do some states require pool operator training, but some local cities and counties require the certification in states that may not require it. The CDC reported in 2016 that of the 84,187 inspections by state or local health departments, 8,118, or 12.3%, resulted in immediate closure. That could include improper chlorine levels, suction covers, or the pool bottom is not visible.

All closures are preventable through good routine maintenance that is learned through the Certified Pool Operator course.


Johnathan Nies has a diverse aquatics background, including indoor and outdoor operations, training and management, and working for the National Swimming Pool Foundation. Johnathan learned pool operation and management by working with the City of Colorado Springs, the US Air Force Academy, and private clubs. After his time in aquatic operations, he helped launch the Advanced Service Technician course at the National Swimming Pool Foundation, which trains residential service professionals how to manage their business better and give the best service to their customers.

As a member of the CHAMP team, Johnathan maintains certifications as a Certified Park and Recreation Professional, Emergency Medical Technician, American Red Cross Lifeguard Instructor Trainer, Water Safety Instructor, and NSPF Certified Pool Operator.

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