California is Overflowing with Water Career Opportunities

ACWA and CWEA issued this media alert ahead of California Water Professionals Appreciation Week 2023
Press release by ACWA and CWEA, Wastewater News

As California’s water, wastewater, irrigation, and regulatory agencies face a wave of retirements, the state’s water associations are on a mission to elevate the profile of water-related careers. In recent years, California water agencies have witnessed a significant portion of their workforce retiring, up to 50% of the workforce at several agencies.

“From finance and customer service representatives to mechanics and welders, there are incredible career opportunities at water and sewer agencies in your own backyard,” said Dave Eggerton, Executive Director of ACWA. “Unfortunately, few Californians know about these careers that offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits and the opportunity to make a difference in your community.”

During California Water Professionals Appreciation Week, which takes place from October 7 to 15, water associations are spotlighting the dedicated individuals and incredible opportunities that keep California’s water systems functioning flawlessly.

“Few Californians think about where tap water comes from, how it gets clean, or where it goes after use. There’s a big team of people behind the scenes taking care of California’s water and they deserve recognition,” said Jenn Jones, the Executive Director and CEO of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA). “The State’s reservoirs are replenished, now it’s time we refill the talent pipeline and get more people interested in working for water. We’ve always been here and water workers are essential to life in California.”

What are the water workforce challenges?

Numerous studies have revealed California’s pipeline of new water workers is drying up, with the aging workforce consistently cited as a top challenge by the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

  • California’s water workforce is older on average compared to other industries and lacks racial and gender diversity. 37% of the water workforce is over the age of 50, according to a 2023 survey by the Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research (COE).
  • 80% of the water workforce is male, so California’s water agencies and associations are taking steps to increase gender diversity and encouraging women to apply for frontline operator roles (CWEA).
  • 67% of California water agencies report they are finding it difficult to recruit water and wastewater operators (COE).
  • A Bay Area water workforce report found there are very few candidates applying for mission-critical roles with hundreds of openings, including: electricians, instrumentation technicians, mechanics, and heavy equipment operators. None of these roles require a college degree (BAYWORK).

What are the benefits of a water career?

Choosing a career in water comes with several compelling advantages:

  • Better pay: Water jobs pay more and for entry-level workers the water industry pays 50% more than other industries (Brookings)
  • Career path choices: There are 212 different career paths in water, so there’s a career path for every water body (Brookings)
  • No degree necessary: Several water career paths don’t require a college degree. 53% of water workers have a high school diploma. California’s community colleges can help you quickly prepare for a water career by obtaining an associate’s degree. (Brookings)
  • Job security: Water is essential to life, which means that water workers are always in demand. You can enjoy job security and stability in an ever-growing industry.
  • Join a supportive community: California’s water associations and agencies are implementing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) programs to ensure everyone feels welcome and included when they join the water profession.
  • Opportunities for advancement: Agencies and associations provide water workers with opportunities for training and career development, so you can continue to grow and advance in your career.

What are water associations doing?

To address the challenges faced by the water workforce, we’re raising the profile of water professionals during Water Week, including:

  1. Celebrating water professionals and highlighting the overflowing well of job opportunities during California Water Professionals Appreciation Week on October 7-15. Resources available at
  2. Friday, Oct. 6 – Water career fair in Sacramento at the Regional San Headquarters, 10060 Goethe Road, Sacramento, CA 95827. Details at
  3. Tuesday, Oct 10 – Path to Power webinar featuring a panel of women in water. Details at
  4. Wednesday, Oct 11 – California Water Jobs and Certs virtual meet-up. Details at
  5. Thursday, Oct 12 – Diversity in California Water. Details at
  6. Ask your local water or wastewater agency the steps they’re taking, or contact us for additional background info.

Water Career Info

About the associations

The California Water Environment Association (CWEA) empowers wastewater professionals as they protect California’s most critical resource: water. Our community of 10,000+ professionals represent all facets of wastewater management and resource recovery, from operators to lab techs to engineers.

CWEA provides technical certifications for over 6,000 wastewater professionals and hosts hundreds of training events across California. Founded in 1928, CWEA proudly unites professionals from throughout the state. We address real-time issues, develop and deliver cutting-edge training, raise awareness of the profession and shape the future of wastewater.

The Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) is the largest statewide association of public water agencies in the nation, representing more than 470 public agency members. Since its inception in 1910, ACWA has served as a guiding force in California water policy, advancing comprehensive statewide strategies to meet the state’s future water needs.

ACWA’s member agencies are responsible for 90% of the water delivered to California communities, farms and businesses. Together, members play an active role in managing the state’s water resources and creating progress in groundwater management, safe drinking water, water use efficiency, water recycling and desalination.

Interview your local agency about working for water

Interesting people and great visuals are available near you at one of California’s impressive municipal water treatment or water resource recovery facilities.

For background info on water careers or to find a local agency, please contact Heather or Alec:

  1. Heather Engel, Director of Communications, ACWA, [email protected] or 916-669-2387
  2. Alec Mackie, Director of Communications, CWEA [email protected] or 818.261.3399