Career Advice

CWEA gives you access to an inclusive, collaborative community of professionals that spans roles, career stages, and regions. In this section we’ve gathered some of the best career advice from across our membership.

Water careers can seem intimidating. Spend some time in the profession and we think you’ll find water pros are welcoming and we want to help you succeed. Just keep working at it, studying and striving. You will get there!

This section is generously supported by

waterTALENT


You may also like: CA Water Jobs   |    Career Resources   |   Career Paths

  • NEWS

      CWEA recently sat down with Arvind K. Akela to discuss his involvement in CWEA over the past few years and  his goals as the new president of the Association as he works to implement the organization’s updated strategic plan during his term. Akela comes to CWEA with over 15 years of experience in engineering and...

    • NEWS

        It’s a safe bet that Liz Dubrin will spend the rest of her career providing clean water for her community. As project manager for the Ojai Valley Sanitary District, she brims with enthusiasm  for her work and colleagues, and can’t see herself doing anything else in the future. “I love my job,” she says. She...

      • NEWS

          “We do it all here.” That’s how Ryan Rodriguez describes his responsibilities and those of his colleagues at the Leucadia Wastewater District in Carlsbad. Rodriguez is a Field Technician III, responsible not only for maintaining the District’s sewer lines but also helping to operate the 1 mgd Gaffney Water Reclamation Plant, where treated wastewater is...

        • NEWS

            Sometimes the worst brings out the best. That’s the case with Melissa Lash, research microbiologist at the East Bay Municipal Utility District. She’s responsible for special projects, bringing new analyses online, developing QA-QC protocols, and investigating laboratory errors. Those skills were well-suited to overcoming the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic—shortages of hand sanitizers and...

          • NEWS

              When Keith Backus started out as a meter reader 15 years ago, he probably had little idea that providing clean water to his community would be his life’s work. But now, as engineering services supervisor for the Jurupa Community Services District (JCSD), that’s exactly how it’s turned out. “I grew up here,” he says. “I have a...

            • NEWS

                When the pandemic hit last year, tours of the East Bay Municipal Utility District’s (EBMUD’s) Main Wastewater Treatment Plant in West Oakland ground to a halt. James Hake and his team, however, turned that challenge into an opportunity, creating a compelling and colorful virtual tour that covers everything included in the on-site tours, plus more....

              • NEWS

                  There’s a reason you hear happiness in the voice of Tonya Durrell, director of public information for LA Sanitation & Environment. “I was born and raised here,” she says.  “I love this city. I love all our communities. And I love this job.” Tonya leads the agency’s public outreach program and is responsible for communications...

                • NEWS

                    Kyle Carbajal is enthusiastic about learning. As an Environmental Services Analyst II at the Central Marin Sanitation Agency in San Rafael, he gets plenty of opportunities to fulfill that wish. He’s a member of the agency’s pre-treatment program, an assignment that puts him in contact with a wide range of industrial and commercial accounts. “I’m...

                  • NEWS

                      Most people plan to retire after a long career, but that was never a consideration for the San Diego Section’s 2020 “Denis Pollak Mentor of Many” award winner, Jack Kubota. At 92, Jack is still working part-time for a growing local engineering firm and mentoring colleagues of all ages on a bit of everything he...

                    • NEWS

                        Name: Thomas Bond Current Position: Electromechanical Technician (EMT) Experience/Certifications: 39 years in the Water and Wastewater industries. I currently hold a CA T3 D3 1. What is your current role in water/wastewater? I currently perform the duties of Electromechanical Technician which include but are not limited to performing scheduled preventive and predictive maintenance tasks on...

                      • NEWS

                          Join the Students and Young Professionals Committee Brownbag Luncheon on Mentoring with speaker Kerrie Greenfelder, Kansas City Municipal Water Division Department Manager for Burns & McDonnell and inaugural winner of the 2020 WEF Mentorship Award on June 9 at 12:00 p.m. Students can register for free. Members get a $130 discount before April 23. Cecilia...

                        • NEWS

                            Howard Brewen Water Resource Recovery Facility Superintendent (Retired) Public Utilities City of San Luis Obispo Howard Brewen took the road less traveled to his position as superintendent of the Water Resource Recovery Facility for the City of San Luis Obispo.  Raised on his family’s ranch in north San Luis Obispo County, he followed in his...

                          • NEWS

                              More women are joining the California water sector than ever before and moving-up to leadership roles. Major barriers and challenges still remain when it comes to recruiting and joining our profession. A diverse panel of women shared their experiences and insights on the barriers women face entering the water sector. The panel discussed key topics...

                            • NEWS

                                The Advanced Water Treatment Operator Certification was developed by water professionals, for water professionals and jointly administered by CA-NV AWWA and CWEA. Professional certification is different than a training or educational program. Training programs offer a certificate of attendance when an individual completes the coursework, but they do not generally award a credential or require...

                              • NEWS

                                  The Advanced Water Treatment Operator Certification was developed by water professionals, for water professionals and jointly administered by CA-NV AWWA and CWEA. Professional certification is different than a training or educational program. Training programs offer a certificate of attendance when an individual completes the coursework, but they do not generally award a credential or require...

                                • NEWS

                                     A special session for young water leaders of California Content development and from science to stories Presentation and moderation techniques Social media for leaders With Tom Freyberg, Alan Shapiro and Andrew Walker Tom Freyberg believes everyone has a story to tell. Spending nearly a decade travelling the globe for WaterWorld and reporting on major...

                                  • NEWS

                                       California’s water utilities are hiring now. They’ll hire thousands of highly-skilled professionals for water jobs this year. Your skills as a veteran could be exactly what water utilities are looking for. Dive into the California water profession. We can show you how. This one hour webinar features four veterans who work on the frontlines...

                                    • NEWS

                                         Calling all women (and women supporters) who want to feel empowered in the water, wastewater and power industries! Join us if you are interested in pursuing these amazing careers. This very special one hour webinar discussion features four woman who work on the frontlines of California water. We’re also celebrating these amazing water professionals...

                                      • NEWS

                                           The CWEA Students and Young Professionals Committee presents a skills building webinar The resume is a marketing tool which acts as a door opener and allows an employer to assess your qualifications quickly in the pre-screening process before interviews. Resumes should be succinct, commanding and truthful while emphasizing skills, strengths and accomplishments. Most resumes...

                                        • NEWS

                                            CWEA Students and Young Professionals Committee Personal Skills Builder Webinar The presentation will briefly cover the application process, with pointers on how to write an application that will get you past the Human Resources screening process and onto a supervisors desk for consideration of an interview. In addition, the presentation will explore how to make...

                                          • NEWS

                                              As environmental professionals work to address the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, is time dedicated to the California Water Environment Association (AAEES) well spent? The answer from an active volunteer, Wendy Wert, P.E., BCEE, is a resounding yes and a compelling story. Wendy is registered civil engineer with the Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts....

                                            • NEWS

                                                Read the original profile from Comstock magazine. Cindy Messer was sworn in as chief deputy director of the California Department of Water Resources the day after the Oroville Dam crisis began in February 2017, when damage to both the main and emergency spillways forced the evacuation of more than 180,000 residents. Find more info on...

                                              • NEWS

                                                  CWEA’s Kirt Brooks Memorial Scholarship was named after Kirtland “Kirt” Brooks, Association Manager and Bulletin editor for several years in the 1980’s. Kirt had joined the Association in the mid-60’s and become active in the San Francisco bay section and several other northern California sections. Kirt believed that by improving the technical qualification of operators...

                                                • NEWS

                                                    Coverage of water workforce topics is supported by waterTALENT Garry Parker, Associate Professor Water Supply Technology, San Bernardino Valley College & Mt San Jacinto College, CWEA Past President 2016 Tenure and certifications held: Plant Maintenance Technologist Grade 4, Electrical Instrumentation Technologist Grade 3 Branch/years of service: US Navy 9 years What is your role? I...

                                                  • NEWS

                                                      Rhondi Emmanuel, Administrative Services Manager, Vallecitos Water District Tenure and certifications held: 7 years; IPMA-SCP Branch/years of service: USMC/9 years What is your role? As Administrative Services Manager, I’m responsible for multiple departments including human resources, public information/conservation, information technology, and risk management. What / who inspired you to work in water? To be honest, I never really thought about working in the water industry.  Since my...

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                                                        Dale Austin, Senior Pump and Motor Technician Tenure and certifications held: 20 Years D3, T2, Mech Tech 2 Name of agency: Vallecitos Water District Branch/years of service: Army 82/85 Navy 85/90   What is your role? As a Senior pump tech, I’m responsible for all water pump and pressure stations. Sewer lift stations, Emergency generators,...

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                                                          Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. The Professional Development Committee and the Students and Young Professionals Committee of the San Francisco Bay Section of the CWEA held a Supporting Women in Wastewater Workshop and networking dinner on May 9, 2019. The event had almost 90 attendees and kicked...

                                                        • NEWS

                                                            Meet Cari Dale, Water Utilities Director, City of Oceanside, a recipient of the Kirt Brooks Memorial Water Environment Scholarship in 2004. Cari graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on Water Resources in 2005. Her Master’s project focused on Achieving Effective Asset Management for Water and Wastewater...

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                                                              Coverage of water workforce topics supported by waterTALENT Debi Lewis Past President 2017-2018 Professional Engineer Stantec Debi Lewis’ career began in business administration working for an ad agency. She started as a secretary in the Pasadena office of James M. Montgomery, which later became MWH and is now Stantec. Eventually she became an office manager...

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                                                                Theodore Higgins has moved steadily taking on roles of greater responsibility in his 16 years at the Industrial Waste Management Division at the city of Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation. Now he’s helping create advancement opportunities for his inspections colleagues through the creation of the Professional Development and Work Exposure Program. The program encourages the...

                                                              • NEWS

                                                                  Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. We’re hiring! Water and wastewater utilities across California need talented, hard working professionals to help keep our water clean and healthy. This interview is with: Elizabeth Meyerhoff Environmental Specialist Coachella Valley Water District The interviewer is CWEA leader: Judith Marquez Innovare Environmental...

                                                                • NEWS

                                                                    There is no doubt that CWEA has played a huge role in my career and continues to open doors and present opportunities for my future growth in our exciting industry. It feels like yesterday I was attending my first workshop and studying for my first certification. Little did I know that one day I would...

                                                                  • NEWS

                                                                      In keeping with the October Wastewater Professional theme of “Women in Water,” the CWEA History Committee has produced a brief profile of a woman who was a pioneer in the history of CWEA’s governance. Background Historically, the wastewater collection and treatment field in California was dominated by men through most of the 20th century.  And,...

                                                                    • NEWS

                                                                        California’s water and wastewater agencies need approximately 6,000 new workers every year and that number continues to grow as more and more water professionals retire. Water careers provide an incredible opportunity for individuals who enjoy working with their hands, working outdoors and working as part of a larger team. Water careers offer great salaries and...

                                                                      • NEWS

                                                                          Director of Wastewater at EBMUD treatment plant, Eileen White, discusses her career in the industry. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                            Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. Video produced by the Water Career Pathways program at West Valley College. #womenimpactingwater

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                                                                              About this series:  Each month CWEA is interviewing an innovative thinker in the water profession. We’re asking each person “The future of the water profession is …” Juan Guerreiro Deputy Director City of San Diego, Public Utilities Department Grade V Wastewater Treatment Operator, SWRCB Dual-Associate Degrees, Water and Wastewater, Cuyamaca College Bachelors Degree, San Diego State University...

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                                                                                About this series:  Each month CWEA is interviewing an innovative thinker in the water profession. We’re asking each person “The future of the water profession is …” Prior to becoming a water professional, Richard Salas worked for McDonald Douglas as a structural mechanic. “Working at McDonald Douglas gave me an appreciation of attention to detail,” Richard...

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                                                                                  According to the Workforce Survey from Baywork, Bay Area utilities will need aboutt 828 new workers over the next three years in the electrical, mechanics and instrumentation categories. Electrical Instrumentation techs is one of the most in demand practice areas in our profession . Every agency is looking for one it seems. The water sector...

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                                                                                    Support for our coverage of Women in Water is provided by DN Tanks. CWEA had the fortunate opportunity to conduct a round table discussion with four inspiring California water leaders. Debi Lewis, Kathy Suter, Tracy Stigers and Heather Collins shared personal experiences of being a woman working in water. Our conversation included the narrowing gender...

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                                                                                        State SJWP Competition Entry Deadline: April 15, 2018| ENTER COMPETITION To be eligible for the state competition, students must complete the online entry form and electronically submit their research paper. There are no specific paper guidelines at the state level, however the file cannot be larger than 2MB. Teams of one or two students may enter....

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                                                                                        For Lisa Arroyo, wastewater systems manager for the City of Santa Barbara, the hardest part of being a women in the clean water profession is balancing family with a job. “I have two small children,” she explains. “Sometimes it is hard to turn off work and concentrate on being a mom. Changing your focus is...

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                                                                                           Years ago, Amber Baylor read Marc Reisner’s Cadillac Desert, packed up her car, and headed for California. She’s never looked back. “California represented the most complex water system in the world,” she says, “and I wanted to be part of it.” She got her wish and after 10 years managing a water quality laboratory, she...

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                                                                                            Only one in seven engineers in the United States is a woman, according to the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress. And in wastewater, only one in 20 treatment plant operators across the country is a woman (The Institute for Women’s Policy Research). So, is the gender ration any more balanced in California? Yes...

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                                                                                              Michelle Tarantino is one of only two women in the group of 20 operators at the Central Contra Costa Sanitary District in Martinez. Yet she sees no particular barriers keeping women from the field, as long as they are determined to succeed and willing to put in the time. “The sky is the limit for...

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                                                                                                Find water jobs at CAWaterJobs.org Emmanuel Sarpong Operations Technician Foreman Desert Water Agency Emmanuel served 4 years in the US Marine Corps.

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                                                                                                  When the “One Water” plant of the future finally arrives, Amanda Bird will feel right at home. A Grade V Operator at the Santa Cruz wastewater treatment plant, she’s excited about the future of the profession. She foresees the day when wastewater, drinking water, water recycle, biosolids management and energy generation will be combined into a single, efficient public...

                                                                                                • NEWS

                                                                                                    The Bay Area Consortium for Clean Water Education is offering community college classes and scholarships for students seeking a career in the water and wastewater industry. Registration is now open for continuing or new students. The first class begins Wednesday evening, August 30th in Redwood City at 1400 Radio Road, from 6 to 9 p.m....