Drinking Water Treatment Operator

Under general supervision, operates, maintains and repairs a wide variety of complex machinery and equipment in a water treatment plant and/or pumping station or related facility. Performs related duties as assigned.

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

Working knowledge of: The operation and maintenance of water treatment plants; methods and practices, including safety regulations pertaining to the work; water treatment and related equipment servicing, calibrating, and repair; mechanical, electrical, and hydraulic principles; principles and practices of standardized water quality tests; state and federal regulations governing the operation of a water treatment plant.

General knowledge of: Uses and principles of computerized electronic equipment in the collection, storage and interpretation of operational data related to water treatment and distribution; the operation and maintenance of water distribution systems; inventory control of water treatment chemicals, fuel and supplies; routine operating report generation; current technological developments in water treatment, distribution and water quality.

Skill in: Operating water treatment system equipment including automatic control devices and plant equipment; maintaining safe and reliable water supply to customers; servicing, repairing and calibrating plant equipment; operating without immediate or detailed supervision.

Ability to: Establish and maintain effective working relationships; communicate effectively, verbally and in writing; prepare clear and concise reports; recognize unusual, inefficient, or dangerous operating conditions and take appropriate action; accurately read, interpret and record data from gauges, meters and a SCADA system; read and interpret schematic drawings showing plant piping, alarms, mechanical, electrical controls, valves, and related instrumentation; observe, inspect, analyze system equipment and facilities; and compile, evaluate and analyze operational data and information and recommend or take appropriate actions; and learn advanced SCADA System techniques and complex analyses of water treatment system requirements; to operate and maintain the distribution system on an emergency or as needed basis.

Education and Training

Requirements for operator certification are specified by the state. Each state has the authority to develop their own requirements for operator certification. The guidelines required that states must require the following for an operator to become certified:

  • Take and pass an exam that demonstrates that the operator has the necessary skills, knowledge, ability, and judgement as appropriate for the classification.
  • Have a high school diploma or a general equivalency diploma (GED). States may allow experience and/or relevant training to be substituted for a high school diploma or GED.
  • Have the defined minimum amount of on-the-job experience for each appropriate level of certification. The amount of experience required increases with each classification level. Post high school education may be substituted for experience. Credit may be given for experience in a related field (e.g., wastewater).
  • The state must establish training requirements for renewal based on the level of certification held by the operator. States must require all operators including grandparented operators to acquire necessary amounts and types of state approved training. States may determine other requirements as deemed necessary. States must have a fixed cycle of renewal not to exceed three years.

Adapted from Baywork.org and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics

Education and training vary by state, please check the Get Started Map.

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We understand that finding the perfect career can be both exciting and overwhelming. With many different paths to choose from and education, training, and certification requirements that vary by region, it’s hard to know where to start. Work for Water is here to help! Visit our Get Started map to learn the specifics to finding a job in your region, links to your local certification agency, training opportunities, scholarships, and other local resources to help you launch your career in water.

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