CPO Program

CPO Program



A. What is an IBWA Certified Plant Operator?

A certified plant operator (CPO) is any person who qualifies to operate and maintain, by experience, education, and training, the facilities of a bottled water plant. Certification is valid for a period of three years, beginning in the calendar year of the examination date and expiring on December 31 of the third calendar year. Example: A CPO candidate who attains a passing score on the examination on May 25, 2022 will be certified until December 31, 2025. A CPO must have successfully completed and passed the IBWA Certified Plant Operator Final Examination. The exam covers Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) and the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system of managing food safety, including source and product sanitation, water treatment technology, product quality, and record keeping.

B. Why do I need a CPO at my plant?

A CPO ensures that a production facility is under the supervision of an individual who has demonstrated a proficiency of knowledge in the areas of GMPs and HACCP, including treatment technologies, sanitation, and regulatory issues. The certification program promotes training and education, two areas that are vital to ensuring that compliance is met in all phases of production.

C. What is the IBWA Plant Technical Reference Manual (PTRM)?

The PTRM is designed to educate your plant operators in every phase of bottled water processing, from source to finished product. To facilitate study for the CPO examination, the PTRM includes background information such as water chemistry, plant sanitation, and federal regulations. There are also study questions at the end of each Chapter.

D. How does a plant operator achieve IBWA certification?

Certification is achieved through preparing for the final examination by studying the PTRM and the IBWA Bottled Water Code of Practice. The CPO candidate then registers for the IBWA CPO Final Examination. To register, click here and then click “enroll now.” Candidates who do not attain a passing score are encouraged to register for a future exam. There is no limit to the number of times a candidate may take the exam.

E. Who is eligible to become an IBWA Certified Plant Operator?

Employees of companies that are IBWA Bottler, Candidate Bottler, Distributor, and Supplier members are eligible to become a CPO.

F. Where may a CPO candidate take the examination?

The CPO examination is offered at the IBWA Annual Convention and Trade Show. Online exams are proctored by IBWA staff via Zoom. Typically, exams are the second Thursday of every month at 1PM EST. However, contact IBWA staff directly to confirm test dates. To register for an online exam, click here and then click “enroll now.”

G. How may a CPO maintain current certification?

CPO certification is valid for a maximum period of three years. Certification may be renewed as follows:

(1) A CPO may register for the CPO examination at any time during the third year of certification; OR
(2) A CPO may accumulate a minimum of 21 IBWA Continuing Education Units (CEUs) (1 CEU for each contact hour of training).  A maximum of 6 non-technical CEUs may apply towards the certification, and the remainder must be technical CEUs.

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