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 International Watershape Institute (IWI) is a member-driven leadership team focused on advancing the industry through higher standards in education, technology and partnerships. This includes development of Position Statements and research and development in watershape and outdoor living concerns. IWI members are also expected to perform at high levels within their own practice as well as assisting the industry through volunteer work within organizations outside of Watershape University to improve standards, codes, guidance for various boards, etc. This standard requires verification of professional education and training as well as passing a professional certification exam. This designation is the pinnacle of Watershape University’s certifications.


The International Watershape Institute (IWI) certification may be used for contractor licensing and required continuing education in certain jurisdictions. The IWI certification builds upon the CWF certification; therefore, all IWI members are also CWFs which support licensing in the following jurisdictions:

Application Requirements

  • Complete the Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) certification
  • Once the Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) certification has been obtained, the candidate must submit evidence that they have worked with a coach for at least one project as well as volunteered to improve the industry.
  • Apply for International Watershape Institute (IWI) Membership below
  • Pay $900 Application Fee below
  • Sign/Accept the WU Code of Ethics below
  • Sign/Accept the WU Standards of Practice below

Equivalent Classes

The International Watershape Institute (IWI) is a special certification that is achieved only after completing the Certified Watershape Professional (CWP) certification and demonstrating high-level performance in the individual’s own practice under the guidance of a coach, as well as volunteering to help the industry outside of Watershape University.

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 and these are identified within the prerequisite certifications:


  • There is no IWI exam
  • Assessment is done by a coach
  • A coach is any existing member of the IWI
  • A coach simply consults with the candidate on at least one project to help guide improvements and reinforce best practices
  • A coach does not need to be a paid consultant, although coaches cannot be expected to perform without reasonable reimbursement of expenses
  • More information is available in the EXPERIENTIAL 4311: IWI Candidate Coaching Prep Course


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 International Watershape Institute (IWI) certification builds upon the CWP, CWD, CWB and CWF certifications. It is the pinnacle of Watershape University certifications.

Pathfinder Infographic

Click badges for details.

Certified Watershape Professional (CWP)
Certified Watershape Professional (CWP)
Certified Watershape Designer (CWD)
Certified Watershape Designer (CWD)
Certified Watershape Builder (CWB)
Certified Watershape Builder (CWB)
Certified Watershape Foreman (CWF)
Certified Watershape Foreman (CWF)