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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 California State Water Resources Control Board is in the process of revising the Operator Certification Regulations. A draft was presented to the Wastewater Operator Certification Advisory on June 7, 2007. The timeline for public comments on the draft regulations is to be determined. Please return to this page for more details as they develop.

Educational Resources for Wastewater Operators

California State University Sacramento
Office of Water Programs

6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819
916/278-6142
wateroffice@csus.edu
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. The Department of Health Services administers the water treatment plant operator certification program. They take applications, give exams and issue certificates on applicants who meet their requirements. The drinking water treatment plant operator certification program may be reached at:

Department of Health Services
Office of Drinking Water
Certification Unit

PO Box 942732
Sacramento, CA 94234-7320
(916) 327-1140
http://www.dhs.ca.gov/ps/ddwem/publications/opcert/index.htm

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