How to Study and Prepare for a CPO Exam

The image of the young, muscular pool guy lounging with the wealthy lady of the house is for romance models. The monetary perks of being a pool operator come from obtaining a CPO certification. The knowledge you get during your online course ensures you will pass the CPO exam for your state.

CPO certification allows you to work anywhere in the United States, Canada, and over 100 countries. Forty-six states accept online certification. You must take an in-person course if you live in Delaware, Iowa, Wyoming, or Idaho.

The benefits of online certification include becoming a more competitive hire and earning an average of $54,000 annually. Dive into everything you need to know about CPO exam preparation here.

CPO Exam Preparation

Becoming a certified pool operator ensures your investment in a solid career choice. Pool ownership is a growing market, and as that growth continues, so will the demand for CPOs.

Every pool cleaning business knows that CPO certification is a good investment. Passing the CPO exam for your state ensures your qualifications under state and local codes for maintaining public and private swimming pools.

Studying for the exam includes completing the online course, taking good notes, and paying attention during the review portion. Asking questions and engaging with your instructor and peers desiring CPO certification will add value. One of the best ways to prepare is to take an online course and schedule to take your CPO exam online immediately after course completion.

The test is open book, open note. Highlight or flag important pages and organize your notes for easy reference. If your instructor offers CPO test practice, take advantage of it.

There may be optional homework to determine what areas you need additional study time. If there is an area you struggle with, ask your instructor for any tips to help you grasp the material.

The test for CPO certification covers all aspects of maintaining a safe swimming pool. You have three hours to take the test and must correctly answer at least 37 of the 50 questions. Before the exam, make sure you take good notes during your review from

If you are working on pools and spas before taking the exam, that hands-on experience will benefit you in your course and CPO test practice. While you can’t predict the questions on the 2024 exam, you should ensure you are familiar with commonly covered topics and any regulatory and industry standards for the state where you plan to work.

CPO Exam Topics

When taking the certified pool operator exam, you may be required to provide answers in the following areas:

  • Water chemistry maintenance: test PH, bromine, and chlorine; add chemicals as necessary
  • Swimming pool calculations: length x width x depth x 7.5 = volume in gallons of water a pool can hold 
  • Basic pool maintenance standards: chemical levels, testing, record keeping, cleaning
  • Water circulation: outlets, filter, skimmer, pump system maintenance
  • Disease and accident prevention
  • Pool safety: keeping the entire pool area safe, including the pool, deck, slides, diving boards, and walkways
  • Pool cleaning: how to clean to remove contaminants and debris
  • CPO Math: requires a wide range of calculations

A certified pool operator must know math conversions of ounces to pounds, fluid ounces to gallons, yards to feet, meters to feet, and square inches to square feet. They must be able to determine the volume of various pool configurations, determine the filter surface area, calculate water replacement, heater sizing, and more. You will go over all of this with your CPO Instructor. 

A pool that is not maintained correctly puts users at risk. People entering the water carry viruses, bacteria, and parasites on their bodies. Releasing these organisms into a pool with inadequate maintenance can cause others in the water to become infected.

Having a CPO certification before opening your pool business is critical. Swimming is the fourth most popular sport in the U.S., with over 10.4 million residential pools. CPO certification gives you an upper edge over other job applicants.

Essential Materials for the CPO Exam

The certified pool operator exam is an open-book, open-note multiple choice test. Gather the materials you use to study before the exam.

A calculator will be necessary for portions of the test. Ensure you understand all your calculator’s functions so you don’t waste time searching for how to conduct specific calculations.

Pencils are a must-have for making notes during the exam. Use self-sharpening pencils or keep a sharper handy. Post-it flags or sticky notes serve as quick reference markers to textbook pages you refer to frequently during the exam.

If there is time left after answering all questions, go back and review to check your answers and make sure you haven’t missed a question. This is especially important in areas requiring math calculations.

Beverages and snacks keep you focused on the exam, not your thirst and hunger. Things like hard candies, fruit, water, coffee, and gum can help you stay comfortable for the entire exam period.

Taking the Certified Pool Operator Exam

The test is multiple choice, so you don’t have to remember the answer as much as recognize what is correct and incorrect. Trust your instincts about what you believe the proper answer to be.

The CPO exam is to make sure you know your stuff. They don’t try to throw you off-track with tricky questions. Read each question carefully and make your selection.

Only about ten questions require math. If the calculations are a challenge, move on and return to these later. Answering questions in areas you are confident about helps you relax.

Some questions may take longer to read and answer than others. If you are unsure how to answer, check your textbook or notes. It is better to take a couple of minutes to provide a correct answer than rush through making incorrect guesses.

Get Your Online Pool Operator Certification

Before taking your CPO exam, you’ll want to sign up for an online class at Pool Certs. You can complete the pool operator primer self-paced online course in about eight hours.

Our students have a 98% CPO exam pass rate. Select the date you want and take your CPO exam via Zoom. Call us at 909-203-1555 or click here to sign up for an online class.

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