Watershape University


Certifications document a student’s progress through Watershape University (WU) and, ultimately, to the International Watershape Institute (IWI). Credentials can be obtained at multiple steps as the student progresses from a beginning student (“freshman”) to more advanced levels of training and expertise (“senior” and “post-graduate” levels). Credentials are acknowledged via wall certificates and digital badging that is verifiable at verify.watershape.org.

The Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) validates that the recipient has met the globally-recognized professional standard for operating a design/build firm capable of executing complex pools, spas, and water features. This standard requires verification of professional education and training as well as passing a professional certification exam. This designation is a prerequisite to some advanced credentials.


The Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) certification may be used for contractor licensing and required continuing education in certain jurisdictions. The CWP certification builds upon the CWF certification; therefore, all Certified Watershape Professionals (CWPs) are also CWFs which support licensing in the following jurisdictions:

Application Requirements

Equivalent Classes

Watershape University was founded with a principle of accessibility — allowing students of all levels to obtain meaningful high-quality education at lower cost and reduced travel expense. Portability is a key component of access and is an important principle and reason for institutions to obtain and maintain accreditation such as IACET.

All Non-WU courses need to be pre-approved if you wish to use them as a substitute for education requirements. We will happily accept any third-party accredited program that achieves the same learning outcomes as Watershape University’s Essential Classes:

CONSTRUCTION 4112: Essential Advanced Watershapes – Residential:

  • 16 hour minimum duration
  • 3rd party accreditation (e.g., ABET, ACCE, CMAA, IACET, NAAB)
  • Review site work including gravity plumbing, soil stabilization, pier and beam foundations, and advanced site work and forming.
  • Identify ozone, U.V. sterilization, advanced oxidation processes (AOP), and control and automation systems.
  • Examine architecturally integrated watershapes, dynamic pool floors and covers, acrylic windows and fire elements.
  • Appraise glass tile installation, innovative aesthetic details, technical solutions to unique challenges and construction strategies at difficult sites.

PHTA/GENESIS CONSTRUCTION 410: Advanced Pool Construction is an approved equivalent

CONSTRUCTION 4113: Essential Advanced Watershapes – Commercial:

  • 16 hour minimum duration
  • 3rd party accreditation (e.g., ABET, ACCE, CMAA, IACET, NAAB)
  • Discuss project development including programming, concept design, standards, codes (e.g., ADA and MAHC), site, facility and ancillary requirements (e.g., toilets, showers, etc.)
  • Evaluate operational considerations to balance construction budget and ongoing expenses with expected revenue for an optimal design.
  • Define the phases of commercial design and construction and how these differ from residential projects.
  • Assess contractor requirements, specifications, construction management, the submittal process, cash-flow, project delivery methods and ongoing warranties and service considerations.

PHTA/GENESIS CONSTRUCTION 251: Commercial Pools & Waterparks is an approved equivalent

CONSTRUCTION 4113: Essential Advanced Watershapes – Wellness:

  • 16 hour minimum duration
  • 3rd party accreditation (e.g., ABET, ACCE, CMAA, IACET, NAAB)
  • List wellness elements that builders and retailers can add to their portfolios, expanding their business into new profitable offerings with little or no competition.
  • Describe how wellness elements such as hydrotherapy, aromatherapy, light therapy and thermal therapy, affect mental, emotional and physical health and how to use these elements to control physiology in beneficial ways.
  • Discuss design principles important to the success of any wellness center from layout to details such as core elements, colors, materials, lighting and HVAC.
  • Appraise the importance of certain construction and operation considerations including vapor barriers, waterproofing, finish materials and building trades that may be unfamiliar to many pool builders.

ENGINEERING 4311: Essential Advanced Fluid Engineering Workshop:

  • 16 hour minimum duration
  • 3rd party accreditation (e.g., ABET, ACCE, CMAA, IACET, NAAB)
  • Define the meaning and scope of advanced hydraulics, hydrology, and fluid dynamics design, including complex gravity-fed and water-in-transit systems.
  • Detail water-in-transit engineering including vanishing edges, slot-edges, gutters, and water features.
  • Demonstrate use of the WatershapeAdvisor® series of software worksheets, including surge basin design, gravity and drainage systems, channels, lazy rivers, level-bottom slot channels, and more.
  • Practice analyzing vanishing edge and slot-edge pool and spa combinations, as a class project.

PHTA/GENESIS ENGINEERING 311: Advanced Fluid Engineering is an approved equivalent.

Please submit certificates of completion or transcripts from other institutions by uploading via your personal account on the University Portal here.

Exam / Assessment

  • Proctored online exam
  • Schedule exam at your convenience 24/7
  • Pass with a minimum score of 75%


Is this certification accepted by PHTA?

Watershape University is completely independent of PHTA and has obtained approvals from licensing jurisdictions directly. PHTA has no authority over Watershape University and is not required to approve anything.

Will I still need a PHTA CBP to maintain my license?

No. Licensing authorities cannot single-source education and certifications. Continuing education, certifications, and licensing requirements can be obtained through Watershape University completely independent of PHTA.

If you have any other questions, please send an email to certification@watershape.org.

Certification Path

The Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) certification builds upon the CWD, CWB and CWF certifications and is a prerequisite for the IWI certification.

Pathfinder Infographic

Click badges for details.

International Watershape Institute (IWI)
International Watershape Institute (IWI)
Certified Watershape Designer (CWD)
Certified Watershape Designer (CWD)
Certified Watershape Builder (CWB)
Certified Watershape Builder (CWB)
Certified Watershape Foreman (CWF)
Certified Watershape Foreman (CWF)