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Become An Utility Operator

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Working As An Utility Operator

  • 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

  • $42,000

    Average Salary

What Does An Utility Operator 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 Utility Operator

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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Utility Operator Career Paths

Utility Operator
Maintenance Technician Technician Field Service Technician
Service Manager
6 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Foreman Superintendent
Project Superintendent
10 Yearsyrs
Maintenance Technician Electrician Maintenance Supervisor
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Superintendent
Construction Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Driver Foreman Manager
Plant Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Driver Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Technician Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Service Technician Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Electrician Owner
Construction Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Heavy Equipment Operator Electrician Superintendent
General Superintendent
11 Yearsyrs
Plant Operator Laboratory Technician Production Supervisor
Plant Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Plant Operator Laboratory Technician Project Engineer
Quality Control Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Plant Operator Field Service Technician Owner/Operator
General Contractor
5 Yearsyrs
Process Operator Laboratory Technician Production Supervisor
Planting Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Process Operator Manufacturing Technician Production Supervisor
Distribution Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Field Service Technician Maintenance Supervisor
Facilities Maintenance Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Process Operator Safety Coordinator Field Supervisor
Field Operation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Quality Assurance Inspector Section Chief
Operations Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Shop Foreman Facilities Manager
Director, Facilities & Operations
6 Yearsyrs
Numerical Control Operator Manufacturing Engineer Manufacturing Supervisor
General Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as an Utility Operator?

Help others decide if this is a good career for them

Do you work as an Utility Operator?

Average Yearly Salary
$42,000
Show Salaries
$18,000
Min 10%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$42,000
Median 50%
$97,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Fluor
Highest Paying City
Redding, CA
Highest Paying State
District of Columbia
Avg Experience Level
4.2 years
How much does a Utility Operator make at top companies?
The national average salary for an Utility Operator in the United States is $42,163 per year or $20 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $18,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $97,000.

How Would You Rate The Salary Of an Utility Operator?

Have you worked as an Utility Operator? Help other job seekers by rating your experience as an Utility Operator.

Top Skills for An Utility Operator

  1. Boilers
  2. Safety Procedures
  3. Plant Operations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Certified in operations on power/recovery boilers.
  • Attended weekly and monthly safety meetings to ensure compliance with machine operation safety procedures.
  • Review operational reports, analysis, database management systems and informational systems as may be required to insure efficient plant operations.
  • Developed and delivered comprehensive standard operating procedures and preventative maintenance documentation for new plant equipment.
  • Conducted safe operation of numerous pieces of heavy equipment including excavating equipment and street sweepers.

Rank:

Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Utility Operators

  1. Nevada
  2. Vermont
  3. New Hampshire
  4. Wyoming
  5. North Dakota
  6. Maine
  7. Montana
  8. District of Columbia
  9. Washington
  10. Utah
  • (70 jobs)
  • (52 jobs)
  • (106 jobs)
  • (25 jobs)
  • (74 jobs)
  • (54 jobs)
  • (37 jobs)
  • (15 jobs)
  • (183 jobs)
  • (102 jobs)

Utility Operator Resume Examples And Tips

The average resume reviewer spends between 5 to 7 seconds looking at a single resume, which leaves the average job applier with roughly six seconds to make a killer first impression. Thanks to this, a single typo or error on your resume can disqualify you right out of the gate. At Zippia, we went through over 4,896 Utility Operator resumes and compiled some information about how best to optimize them. Here are some suggestions based on what we found, divided by the individual sections of the resume itself.

Learn How To Create A Top Notch Utility Operator Resume

View Resume Examples

Utility Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

75.4%

Female

16.7%

Unknown

7.9%
Ethnicity

White

64.0%

Hispanic or Latino

15.5%

Black or African American

11.9%

Asian

5.7%

Unknown

3.0%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

74.2%

French

8.1%

Carrier

4.8%

German

3.2%

Italian

3.2%

Romanian

1.6%

Cantonese

1.6%

Mandarin

1.6%

Hmong

1.6%
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Utility Operator Education

Schools

University of Phoenix

15.5%

The Academy

8.2%

Calhoun Community College

6.2%

Lamar Institute of Technology

5.2%

Kirkwood Community College

5.2%

Cape Fear Community College

5.2%

Richland Community College

4.6%

Pennsylvania State University

4.1%

Community College of the Air Force

4.1%

College of Southern Idaho

4.1%

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

4.1%

Indian Hills Community College

4.1%

Kaplan University

4.1%

Murray State University

3.6%

Fox Valley Technical College

3.6%

Augusta Technical College

3.6%

Georgia Military College - Milledgeville

3.6%

Full Sail University

3.6%

Purdue University

3.6%

University of Missouri - Saint Louis

3.6%
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Majors

Business

25.9%

General Studies

7.3%

Electrical Engineering

6.1%

Criminal Justice

5.7%

Electrical Engineering Technology

5.2%

Industrial Technology

4.9%

Automotive Technology

4.6%

Computer Science

4.4%

Management

4.4%

Heating And Air Conditioning

3.9%

Education

3.4%

Health Care Administration

3.4%

Precision Metal Working

3.2%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

3.1%

Accounting

2.7%

Liberal Arts

2.7%

Mechanical Engineering

2.6%

Chemical Engineering

2.3%

Communication

2.2%

Psychology

2.1%
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Degrees

Other

41.7%

Bachelors

21.6%

Associate

18.7%

Certificate

9.6%

Diploma

4.0%

Masters

3.3%

License

1.0%

Doctorate

0.1%
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