State Water Board Begins Computer Based Operator Exams

Compiled by CWEA staff from SWRCB OOC Announcements, Wastewater News

Current Status

Updated 2/24/21 from State Water Board announcement

  • All examinees approved and scheduled for the Spring or Fall 2020 Drinking Water Distribution (D1-D5), Drinking Water Treatment (T1-T4) or Wastewater Operator (I-V) Certification examinations will be approved to schedule a testing opportunity for Operator Certification CBT.
  • Due to the backlog of candidates awaiting testing, the State Water Board will be approving candidates for Computer Based Operator Certification examinations in phases:
    1. Candidates who applied for and were scheduled for the Spring 2020 examination, will be provided scheduling opportunities first
    2. Followed by candidates who applied for and were scheduled for the Fall 2020 examinations
    3. Followed by the approved applicants that submitted applications after the fall examination deadlines, up though the present
  • Candidates with an email on file will receive an email from SMT Notice ([email protected]) with the details of how to schedule a computer based test at a testing center.

Office of Operator Certification Announcements

The State Water Board is pleased to announce Operator Certification Computer Based Testing (CBT) has been implemented. In the past, the State Water Board offered paper-pencil exams twice a year (one Saturday in Spring and one Saturday in Fall) at 10 locations throughout the state.  Due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, we’ve moved to year-round computer-based testing at more than 30 testing centers statewide. For additional information on CBT and answers to questions you may have, please see the article below.


In the past, the State Water Board offered paper-pencil exams twice a year (one Saturday in Spring and one Saturday in Fall) at 10 locations throughout the state.

Due to COVID-19 health and safety guidelines, we are moving to year-round computer based testing at more than 30 testing centers statewide.


Computer-based testing means…

  • No application deadlines.
  • Year-round testing opportunities.
  • More testing locations.
  • Faster exam results.

To get an idea of the computer-based testing platform, applicants can access a
demonstration of the testing experience.

Start demo

Please DO NOT  bring any sheets of paper, calculator or formula sheets with you to the Prometric testing center. All the items you need will be provided at the testing center.

The Prometric exam administrator will provide you with the following items:

  • Two SWRCB Formula sheets
  • Either a white board or scratch paper and pens for you to use (depends on which items the testing center provides)
  • There is an on-screen calculator to use on the computer

1. Applying

Submit an exam application to the State Water Board for approval. Applications and
submittal instructions can be found here:

Applications may be submitted at any time since there are no application deadlines. However, there is a 60-day filing period for Wastewater Treatment exams (section 3701 subdivision (a) of Operator Certification regulations)

That means the earliest an applicant can take the Wastewater Treatment exam is 60 days from the date we receive the application.

Applicants that are approved will receive notification from the State Water Board by email within 30 days. If no email address was provided by the applicant, then they will receive notification by letter.

2. Scheduling the Exam

After receiving approval from the State Water Board, go to to schedule an exam appointment. Applicants will be provided a 90-day window in which they will have to schedule and take their exam.

3. Test Day Check-in

On test day, test takers must arrive to their selected testing center 30 minutes before the scheduled test time. There is a security check-in process and test takers will need to show a valid, government issued photo ID. Please watch the short video
“What to Expect” before going to the test center

What to expect at a Prometric testing center

4. Taking the Exam

Exam content has not changed. However, instead of a paper exam booklet, scantron©, and pencil, test takers will use a computer to see the questions and select answers. A demonstration of the exam experience can be viewed here:

View demo

5. Getting the Results

Exam results are emailed to the test taker within one business day after the exam is completed. If no email was provided, a results letter will be provided by mail. Results are also sent to the Office of Operator Certification.


For more information, please review our Computer-Based Testing Frequently Asked
Questions or contact the Office of Operator Certification:

Do you have questions about the State’s new computerized tests?

Be sure to contact the Office of Operator Certification, please do not contact CWEA Member Services. We are not involved in administering the State’s exams in any manner.

If you want to share an update or your experience taking the exam please email Alec Mackie, CWEA’s Director of Communications.

Photos courtesy of Prometric, used with permission.