Most career paths lead to a life of cubicle walls and buzzing fluorescent lights. As a pool cleaner, you can enjoy life outdoors with the sounds of songbirds, not ringing phones. Most pool cleaning jobs do not require advanced education but do entail some formal training. Pool cleaning certification can provide you a leg up in the industry, and, in fact, some states require it. Pool and spa organizations sponsor pool maintenance courses in major cities across the nation. Once certified, you can join the top professionals in the industry and expand your opportunities.
What Does a Pool Cleaner Do?
Some pool cleaners work at one location, such as a country club or apartment complex, while others work for maintenance companies, maintaining many pools. While duties and responsibilities vary among positions, certain essential tasks are common to most pool cleaning jobs, including:
- Pool cleaners oversee the operation of swimming pools and spas. They maintain heaters, pumps, chlorination equipment and motors. They calibrate equipment and inspect pool fittings, such as rails and diving boards, for damage.
- Pool cleaners clean debris from pools and adjust water chemistry to maintain proper balances. Some pool cleaners handle minor repairs for plumbing and fixtures such as signs, fencing, lighting equipment and poolside furniture.
- As a pool cleaner, you must have good administrative skills to maintain cleaning schedules. You must have good communication and documentation skills to maintain cleaning records and math skills to calculate chemical mixtures. In some pool cleaning jobs, you might order supplies, maintain inventory and oversee budgets.
- Some pool cleaners perform custodial duties to grounds or manage a janitorial staff. Others coordinate or oversee construction or improvement projects such as tile replacement or painting.
What Are the Working Conditions and Hazards of Pool Cleaning?
Pool cleaners spend a lot of time outside, exposed to the elements. You must have good dexterity and eye-hand coordination to operate tools and be able to lift heavy equipment and chemical containers, some weighing 50 pounds or more. Pool cleaners work on their feet in wet, slippery environments.
The nature of pool cleaning exposes workers to potentially hazardous substances, including acids, chlorine and bodily fluids. Such hazards require pool cleaners to closely follow rules and procedures.
How Do I Become a Pool Cleaner?
Many employers do not have educational requirements for pool cleaners, although some prefer workers with a high school diploma. Typically, pool cleaners receive a few days or weeks of on-the-job training or employer-sponsored pool maintenance courses. Employers often require pool cleaners to have a valid driver’s license, since the job can require working in multiple locations. Some companies also require first aid or CPR training.
Many states and employers require that pool cleaners hold a Certified Pool Operator certificate. The Pool and Hot Tub Alliance, an organization that represents the hot tub, spa and swimming pool industry, sponsors CPO-certification programs. This in-person course, led by certified pool trainers, takes two days to complete, with 14‒16 hours of classroom work. At the end of the course, you can take an open-book exam to earn your CPO certification.
The PHTA conducts CPO certification classes in locations throughout the country. At the PHTA website, you can search for class schedules, based on your desired date and location.
The PHTA also offers the Pool Operator Primer course, which most CPOs complete before pursuing certification. The association designed the 10-hour online course, which covers the fundamentals of operating spas and swimming pools, for service technicians, environmental health officials and pool operators. The course costs around $225 and includes a certified pool operator handbook. You might opt for the PHTA’s CPO Certification Blended Training program, which combines Pool Operator Primer and Certified Pool Operator courses. Check the PHTA website for all course options.
How Much Does a Pool Cleaner Make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not list CPO wages as a separate, specific category. However, according to BLS estimates, grounds maintenance workers earn a median wage of $14.63 per hour, which represents the center of the grounds maintenance workers pay scale. According to the career website PayScale, CPOs earn an average wage of $18 per hour.
What Is the Job Outlook for Pool Cleaners?
The BLS does not provide job outlook information specific to CPOs. However, the BLS projects jobs for all grounds maintenance workers to increase by 11 percent through 2026. The demand stems from increased popularity in outdoor living spaces, which many homeowners cannot properly maintain themselves.