Two associations have joined forces to develop course materials required for pool service technicians in the state of Florida.

Representatives of the Independent Pool & Spa Service Association are working with the National Swimming Pool Foundation to produce curricula for the 60-hour course.

Florida has strict educational requirements for those in most pool service jobs, though techs who perform only chemical adjustments do not currently need to be licensed.

IPSSA has been working for several years to be able to offer this course. The process was accelerated when the group’s board of regional directors voted in November 2012 to spend $43,000 to fund the effort. Representatives from the group and other regional pool organizations were set to meet in Dallas on April 25 to work on a timetable.

When it’s developed, the course will be offered to IPSSA members at a discount and also will be adaptable for other states and jurisdictions that require certification.

The class isn’t the only one that IPSSA wants to sponsor. Florida pool contractors are required to have 14 hours in continuing education every two years. “We’ve been working with NSPF to get some classes approved for continuing education in Florida,” said Bob Luedtke, IPSSA liaison to NSPF and owner of The Pool Works in Anaheim, Calif. “That’s slowly coming around now. I think they’ve submitted seven courses. We haven’t had any of them approved yet, but they’re in the process.”

The urgency to begin work on the courses increased with efforts in the Florida legislature to require licensing of all pool techs, even those who only clean pools and adjust chemicals. Bills that require such certification have received more support in the legislature each year they’ve been introduced.

IPSSA is intent on using the opportunity to increase the professionalism of the service industry. “Many pool techs are second-career people,” said Jason Lehmann, IPSSA Region 12 director and chairman of the group’s Education Committee. “We’re looking to improve the image of pool man to being in a truly professional organization, bringing the level of certification into the backyard to a much higher level.”

It is not just an issue of image, either. IPSSA hopes to educate its members, and nonmembers, in all facets of the pool service business. The curriculum will go beyond water chemistry and equipment repair into how to run a business. “Lots of guys know the pool stuff, but they forget about the four or five hours of work at night billing for what they did during the day,” said Todd Starner, IPSSA Region 11 director.

To that end, the course will touch on accounting, billing and even personal finance. “You’d be shocked at how many guys don’t have health insurance or a retirement plan,” Lehmann said.

IPSSA is calling on the educational expertise of NSPF to manage the curriculum and put on the classes. NSPF might choose to offer modified versions of the course in regions where IPSSA doesn’t currently have a presence.