Watershape University now offers certifications that have been approved by certain states and municipalities to meet local requirements for earning and maintaining construction and specialty licenses.

This includes a certification for commercial pool and spa operators.

The organization has taken programs that were existing and could be used for continuing education credits on some other organizations’ certification programs, and further developed them into self-supporting certifications. Now, the group’s Verified Watershape Foreman designation, for instance, becomes Certified Watershape Foreman.

“That brings with it not only an educational and experience background, but passing a professional exam. We want it to meet the rigors of traditional, legally defensible certification programs,” said Charlie Raphael, Watershape University’s Director of Certification and Licensing.

The organization brought Raphael on board as part of its move toward certification.

The exam portion of the certification programs takes approximately three hours, Raphael said. Additionally, the organization has adopted a Code of Ethics, to which their certification holders must comply.

“People can trust that, when they hire a Certified Watershape Builder or Certified Watershape Designer, that they adhere to a very strict [code],” Raphael said.

In 2021, Watershape University gained approval for its education from the International Accreditors for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).

So far, New Jersey, Connecticut, Alabama, Ohio and the New York counties of Nassau, Suffolk and Rockland have approved Watershape University’s certifications to apply toward their local licensing. Mississippi is expected to join that list soon. Applications are pending in approximately 20 other states and municipalities, Raphael said.

“Our goal is to have this be a requirement throughout the country,” he said.

The Certified Watershape Operator program is approved by the Council for the Model Aquatic Health Code, and is completely administered online at the student’s pace. “This is a federal level committee that has now certified and accredited our course to their standard,” Raphael said.

Watershape University was founded in 2019 by former Genesis instructors David Peterson and Bill Drakeley.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Watershape University's operator certification program is the only one certified by the Model Aquatic Health Code. Another program -- Starfish Aquatics Institute's AquaTech program -- also carries that recognition.