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Become A Wastewater Treatment Operator

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Working As A Wastewater Treatment 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

  • $116,942

    Average Salary

What Does A Wastewater Treatment 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 A Wastewater Treatment 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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Wastewater Treatment Operator Jobs

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Wastewater Treatment Operator Career Paths

Wastewater Treatment Operator
Lead Operator Operation Supervisor Operations Officer
Chief Of Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Chief Of Operations General Manager Facilities Manager
Director, Facilities & Operations
7 Yearsyrs
Driver Dispatcher Operations Manager
Division Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Driver Safety Manager
Environmental Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Driver Delivery Driver Maintenance Technician
Facilities Maintenance Manager
11 Yearsyrs
Water Operator Equipment Operator Maintenance Technician
Facilities Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Plant Superintendent Maintenance Manager Field Technician
Field Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Material Handler Security Officer Field Supervisor
Field Operation Manager
8 Yearsyrs
Chief Of Operations Project Manager Property Manager
General Contractor
6 Yearsyrs
Lead Operator Production Supervisor
General Supervisor
7 Yearsyrs
Chemical Operator Operator Laboratory Technician
Laboratory Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Operator Maintenance Technician
Maintenance Director
11 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Maintenance Technician Service Manager
Operations Director
9 Yearsyrs
Operator Technician Service Manager
Operations Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Plant Superintendent Assistant Plant Manager Operation Supervisor
Operations Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Forklift Operator Technician Operations Manager
Plant Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Chemical Operator Production Supervisor
Plant Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
Service Technician Engineer Civil Engineer
Public Works Director
10 Yearsyrs
Water Operator Driver Dispatcher
Warehouse Manager
5 Yearsyrs
Truck Driver Plant Operator Water Treatment Operator
Water Superintendent
9 Yearsyrs
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Do you work as a Wastewater Treatment Operator?

Wastewater Treatment Operator Demographics

Gender

Male

88.8%

Female

10.2%

Unknown

1.0%
Ethnicity

White

64.2%

Hispanic or Latino

15.1%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

5.9%

Unknown

3.4%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

50.0%

French

10.0%

Mandarin

10.0%

Portuguese

5.0%

Chinese

5.0%

German

5.0%

Japanese

5.0%

Dakota

5.0%

Polish

5.0%
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Wastewater Treatment Operator Education

Schools

California State University - Sacramento

33.6%

University of Phoenix

8.4%

Pima Community College

5.0%

Crowder College

5.0%

Southern New Hampshire University

4.2%

University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point

3.4%

Pennsylvania State University

3.4%

Northeastern State University

3.4%

Community College of the Air Force

3.4%

Gateway Community College

3.4%

Western Governors University

3.4%

Youngstown State University

3.4%

New York University

2.5%

Tulsa Community College

2.5%

The Academy

2.5%

Mountain Empire Community College

2.5%

Vincennes University

2.5%

Sowela Technical Community College

2.5%

University of Findlay

2.5%

College of Southern Idaho

2.5%
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Majors

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

20.1%

Environmental Science

12.3%

Business

12.1%

Biology

7.8%

General Studies

5.4%

Management

3.8%

Automotive Technology

3.6%

Electrical Engineering Technology

3.4%

Computer Science

3.4%

Natural Resources Management

3.1%

Electrical Engineering

3.1%

Chemistry

3.1%

Industrial Technology

2.9%

Civil Engineering

2.9%

Accounting

2.9%

Public Health

2.7%

Criminal Justice

2.0%

Education

1.8%

Mechanical Engineering

1.8%

Computer Information Systems

1.8%
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Degrees

Other

39.4%

Bachelors

25.4%

Associate

15.1%

Certificate

10.2%

Masters

5.6%

Diploma

2.7%

License

1.0%

Doctorate

0.7%
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Top Skills for A Wastewater Treatment Operator

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  1. Lab Analysis
  2. Sludge Plant
  3. Water Samples
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Perform daily lab analysis, mechanical maintenance, operational assessment, and repairs as needed.
  • Trained in the process of a activated sludge plant.
  • Performed chemical analysis of water samples for treatment plant operational controls and records
  • Recorded statistical data concerning plant operations.
  • Record concerning operational functions that may affect removal efficiency of all physical plant components.

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Top Wastewater Treatment Operator Employers

Jobs From Top Wastewater Treatment Operator Employers

Wastewater Treatment Operator Videos

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