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How to Become Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator
To work in a public wastewater treatment plant or a private wastewater treatment plant regulated by the PUC, you must have a valid wastewater treatment plant operator certificate or an operator-in-training certificate. There are three major things that you must do to get certified:
  1. You must take courses in wastewater treatment plant operations. The number and difficulty depend on the certificate grade you want.

  2. You must pass a written exam. Wastewater treatment plant operator certification exams are given twice each year, once in early April and once in early October. Exams for all five grades are given at the same time at several locations throughout the state. To take an exam, you must show that you meet the minimum educational requirements and submit a fee and application.

  3. You must meet experience requirements and submit a fee and an application for a certificate. Your experience must be in the operation of a wastewater treatment plant with a valid operator certificate or operator-in-training certificate. You may submit your application for a certificate up to four years after you pass the written exam.

If you have no experience as an operator, you must get an Operator-in-Training (OIT) Certificate. The owners of the plant do the hiring of operators, usually a city, county or special district. You need to contact them to see if there are any jobs available. Other potential sources of job listings are local newspapers local sections of the California Water Environment Association.

The State of California Office of Operator Certification administers the certification program for wastewater treatment plant operators that work for publicly owned facilities. California water Environment Association administers the certification program for operators of privately-owned industrial wastewater pre-treatment facilities (these are usually private companies that use water in some manufacturing process then discharge the wastewater into a sewer system).

More Information About Operator Careers:

Occupational Guide for Water and Wastewater Operators
California Office of Operator Certification
 
Operator Information Brochure [PDF]

Operator Certification Regulations Revisions
The State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) has revised its regulations in chapter 26 of division 3 of title 23 of the California Code of Regulations, regarding wastewater treatment plant classification, operator certification, and contractor registration for the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Program. The regulations are effective April 1, 2013.

Educational Resources for Wastewater Operators

California State University Sacramento
Office of Water Programs

6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
916/278-6142
[email protected]
http://www.owp.csus.edu
CSUS is the standard for self-study water and wastewater courses.

For more wastewater operator educational opportunities download Wastewater Operator Training Directory [PDF].

How to Become Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator

Drinking water operator certification is separate from wastewater operator certification. Drinking water treatment plant operator certification is required to work as an operator in a treatment plant that produces water for human consumption in homes and businesses. Wastewater treatment plant operator certification is required to work as an operator in a treatment plant that receives and treats wastewater from homes and businesses. On July 1, 2014 the Drinking Water Program, including the Drinking Water Treatment and Distribution System Operator Certification Program, transferred from CDPH to the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB).
The drinking water treatment plant operator certification program may be reached at:

Office of Operator Certification
State Water Resources Control Board

P.O. Box 944212
Sacramento, CA 94244-2120
Attn: Drinking Water OCP
Telephone: (916) 449-5611
Fax: (916) 449-5654
http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/drinking_water/certlic/occupations/DWopcert.shtml

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