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Become An Operator Trainee

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Working As An Operator Trainee

  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material
  • Getting Information
  • Unpleasant/Angry People

  • Outdoors/walking/standing

  • Unpleasant/Hazardous Environment

  • Repetitive

  • $50,290

    Average Salary

What Does An Operator Trainee Do

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators manage a system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.

Duties

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators typically do the following:

  • Add chemicals, such as ammonia or chlorine, to disinfect water or other liquids
  • Inspect equipment on a regular basis
  • Monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges
  • Collect and test water and sewage samples
  • Record meter and gauge readings and operational data
  • Operate equipment to purify and clarify water or to process or dispose of sewage
  • Clean and maintain equipment, tanks, filter beds, and other work areas
  • Follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations
  • Ensure safety standards are met

It takes a lot of work to get water from natural sources—reservoirs, streams, and groundwater—into people’s taps. Similarly, it is a complicated process to convert the wastewater from drains and sewers into a form that is safe to release into the environment.

The specific duties of plant operators depend on the type and size of the plant. In a small plant, one operator may be responsible for maintaining all of the systems. In large plants, multiple operators work the same shifts and are more specialized in their duties, often relying on computerized systems to help them monitor plant processes.

Water treatment plant and system operators work in water treatment plants. Fresh water is pumped from wells, rivers, streams, or reservoirs to water treatment plants, where it is treated and distributed to customers. Water treatment plant and system operators run the equipment, control the processes, and monitor the plants that treat water to make it safe to drink.

Wastewater treatment plant and system operators do similar work to remove pollutants from domestic and industrial waste. Used water, also known as wastewater, travels through sewer pipes to treatment plants where it is treated and either returned to streams, rivers, and oceans, or used for irrigation.

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How To Become An Operator Trainee

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators typically need a high school diploma and a license to work. They also typically undergo on-the-job training.

Education

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators need a high school diploma or equivalent to become operators. Employers may prefer applicants who have completed a certificate or an associate’s degree program in a related field such as environmental science or wastewater treatment technology, as it reduces the amount of training a worker will need. These programs are generally offered at community colleges, technical schools, and trade associations.

Training

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators need long-term on-the-job training to become fully qualified. Trainees usually start as attendants or operators-in-training and learn their skills on the job under the direction of an experienced operator. The trainees learn by observing and doing routine tasks, such as recording meter readings, taking samples of wastewater and sludge, and performing simple maintenance and repair work on plant equipment.

Larger treatment plants usually combine this on-the-job training with formal classroom or self-paced study programs. As plants get larger and more complicated, operators need more skills before they are allowed to work without supervision.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must be licensed by the state in which they work. Requirements and standards vary widely depending on the state.

State licenses typically have multiple levels, which indicate the operator's experience and training. Although some states will honor licenses from other states, operators who move from one state to another may need to take a new set of exams to become licensed in their new state.

Advancement

Most states have multiple levels of licenses for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators. Each increase in license level allows the operator to control a larger plant and more complicated processes without supervision.

At the largest plants, operators who have the highest license level work as shift supervisors and may be in charge of large teams of operators.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must conduct tests and inspections on water or wastewater and evaluate the results.

Detail oriented. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must monitor machinery, gauges, dials, and controls to ensure everything is operating properly. Because tap water and wastewater are highly regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, operators must be careful and thorough in completing these tasks.

Math skills. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must have the ability to apply data to formulas that determine treatment requirements, flow levels, and concentration levels.

Mechanical skills. Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must know how to work with machines and use tools. They must be familiar with how to operate, repair, and maintain equipment.

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Operator Trainee jobs

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Operator Trainee Career Paths

Operator Trainee
Operations Manager Plant Manager General Manager
Area Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Plant Operator Operations Manager General Manager
Business Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Computer Operator Systems Administrator Engineer
Chief Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Plant Operator Plant Manager General Manager
Chief Operating Officer
11 Yearsyrs
Driver Operation Supervisor Plant Manager
Director Of Plant Operations
14 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Field Service Technician Information Technology Manager
Director Of Technology And Services
11 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Security Officer Account Manager
District Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Operations Manager
Division Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Foreman Field Supervisor
Field Operation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Operator Technician Service Manager
General Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Delivery Driver Electrician Foreman
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Foreman Operations Manager Managing Director
Head Operator
7 Yearsyrs
Machine Operator Production Supervisor Operations Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Operator Foreman Technician
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Equipment Operator Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Process Operator Process Technician Production Supervisor
Plant Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Equipment Operator Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Production Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Operations Manager General Manager District Manager
Regional Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Computer Operator Technical Support Specialist Information Technology Manager
Senior Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Operator Maintenance Technician Production Supervisor
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
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Average Length of Employment
Boiler Operator 5.3 years
Reactor Operator 4.7 years
Foreman/Operator 4.4 years
Recovery Operator 4.0 years
Utility Operator 4.0 years
Plant Operator 3.9 years
Lead Operator 3.9 years
Auxiliary Operator 3.7 years
Water Operator 3.7 years
Mill Operator 3.3 years
Field Operator 3.2 years
Dryer Operator 3.1 years
Cutter Operator 3.1 years
Drill Operator 3.0 years
Roll Operator 2.8 years
Operator 2.8 years
Truck Operator 2.5 years
Assistant Operator 2.3 years
Junior Operator 2.1 years
Operator Trainee 1.0 years
Top Employers Before
Internship 9.1%
Cashier 6.6%
Operator 5.0%
Trainee 4.1%
Technician 3.5%
Owner 3.1%
Specialist 2.8%
Top Employers After
Operator 11.4%
Supervisor 5.7%
Driver 5.4%
Technician 3.4%
Foreman 3.4%

Operator Trainee Demographics

Gender

Male

76.4%

Female

22.2%

Unknown

1.4%
Ethnicity

White

76.9%

Hispanic or Latino

10.8%

Asian

9.4%

Unknown

2.0%

Black or African American

0.9%
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Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.6%

Arabic

12.5%

German

9.4%

French

9.4%

Portuguese

6.3%

Chinese

3.1%

Vietnamese

3.1%

Cantonese

3.1%

Urdu

3.1%

Carrier

3.1%

Hindi

3.1%

Mandarin

3.1%
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Operator Trainee Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

11.5%

Rochester Institute of Technology

7.7%

North Carolina State University

6.4%

Kansas State University

5.1%

The Academy

5.1%

State University of New York Buffalo

5.1%

University of Southern Mississippi

5.1%

Texas A&M University

5.1%

Florida International University

5.1%

Victoria College

5.1%

Texas Tech University

3.8%

Pennsylvania State University

3.8%

Eastern New Mexico University

3.8%

California State University - Sacramento

3.8%

Old Dominion University

3.8%

University of Florida

3.8%

University of Kentucky

3.8%

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

3.8%

Purdue University

3.8%

Duke University

3.8%
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Majors

Business

27.9%

Criminal Justice

7.8%

General Studies

6.1%

Management

4.8%

Supply Chain Management

4.4%

Computer Science

4.1%

Kinesiology

4.1%

Education

4.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.7%

Accounting

3.7%

Automotive Technology

3.4%

Civil Engineering

3.4%

Health Care Administration

3.4%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.1%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.1%

Petroleum Engineering

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Finance

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering

2.4%

General Education, Specific Areas

2.4%
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Degrees

Bachelors

35.8%

Other

28.4%

Masters

13.0%

Associate

11.8%

Certificate

7.0%

Diploma

2.9%

License

0.6%

Doctorate

0.5%
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Full Time
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Top Skills for An Operator Trainee

SafetyRegulationsCustomerServicePlantOperationsEnsureComplianceEmergencyDeliveryHeavyEquipmentTrainingProgramFinancialSystemsHazardousMaterialsDumpTruckHandToolsOshaPreventiveMaintenanceDirectSupervisionTroubleshootOperationsTraineePlantEquipmentFrontEndLoaderCDL

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Top Operator Trainee Skills

  1. Safety Regulations
  2. Customer Service
  3. Plant Operations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Implemented tool control and OSHA safety regulations while working independently on various machinery.
  • Provided first line of customer service to passengers embarking and disembarking bus.
  • Trained with operators (on the job training) on plant operations
  • Plant Protection - Supervising all refinery work permitting, hazardous material handling, security / safety planning, and emergency response.
  • Ensured smooth and efficient delivery of Good Food Fast.

Top Operator Trainee Employers

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