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History of CWEA Certification

Certification has found its way into almost every industry for a reason: It helps advance the profession. Certification helps employers evaluate potential new hires, analyze job performance, evaluate employees, select contractors, market services, and motivate employees to enhance their skills and knowledge. Certificate holders benefit too. Certification gives recognition of competency, shows commitment to the profession, and helps with job advancement. The wastewater field is no exception to the explosive growth in professional certification. In fact, CWEA led the way offering the wastewater operator certification program in 1937.  

CWEA founded the Operator Certification Program in 1937 and administered it until turning it over to the State Water Resources Control Board in 1973 as a result of the Clean Water Act.

On October 18, 2002, the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) announced that it was discontinuing the Office of Operator Certification and its wastewater treatment plant operator certification program because of budgetary difficulties. CWEA alerted its members via email the same day the announcement was made and began its efforts to keep mandatory certification for operators in place. CWEA members reacted by sending letters and emails to SWRCB and Governor Gray Davis urging them to keep the operator certification program. CWEA also began looking into the possibility of offering its services in response to SWRCB's hope that an industry association might take the program over. Two weeks later SWRCB announced that the program would be saved and that it would consider raising examination and certification fees to make the program fiscally sound. It's clear that the efforts of CWEA members, as well as other concerned individuals and organizations, helped the SWRCB to understand the importance of mandatory operator certification.

Certifications Offered by CWEA

CWEA still offers certification for Collections System Maintenance, Wastewater Treatment Plant Maintenance both Mechanical and Electrical, Laboratory Analysis, Biosolid Land Management, Environmental Compliance Inspection and Industrial Treatment Plant Operations. Until 2008, CWEA administered certification tests in  paper-and-pencil format on the fourth Saturday of January and July.

Computer Based Testing 

In 2009, CWEA launched computer based testing to offer frequent testing, more test site locations and faster test reporting. Currently, certification candidates can take their test 6 days a week at more than one hundred locations through out California through our testing delivery partner Pearson VUE. Interested wastewater professional seeking CWEA certification, may also sign up to take an exam anywhere in the 50 states. For more information about computer based testing please visit our website.


How to apply for certification

How to become a CWEA member