Engineers design the processes that make water treatment and resource recovery possible.

Engineers play a critical role in providing clean, safe water to sustain life and our economy. They are a broad category of workers who design and implement the industrial processes that make water treatment possible. They may work on a large or small scale and may work individually or cooperate with sizeable teams. Engineers often assume varied duties on their jobs. Sometimes, they estimate costs or develop specifications. Other times, they prepare drawings and schematics, design large scale operation systems, or do in-depth research on topics such as environmental impact. 

Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities 

Knowledge of: 

  • Computer aided design software, 
  • evaluating preconstruction field conditions, 
  • analyzing scientific data and doing quality control checks, 
  • engineering principles and terminology, 
  • chemical safety, 
  • water treatment processes, 
  • environmental and other regulations, 
  • obtaining and maintaining correct permits, 
  • cost-saving techniques, 
  • environmental sustainability.

Skill in: 

  • Designing and fabricating equipment or processes to suit the needs of treatment facilities, 
  • providing support to technicians and operators, 
  • mitigating pollution, 
  • arranging for the safe disposal of hazardous materials (such as lead, chlorine, and asbestos), 
  • inspecting facilities to ensure compliance with regulations. 

Ability to:

  • Implement proper safety procedures and design safe products, 
  • provide hands-on assistance as needed, 
  • supervise or support teams of operators and technicians, 
  • communicate efficiently with others, 
  • build and maintain good working relationships. 

Education and Training

This job typically requires a Bachelor’s degree in engineering. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in design, mathematics, physical and life sciences, and hands-on laboratory classes. Advanced computer skills are also vital.

Many companies and public agencies offer entry-level engineering positions for college graduates. After four years of experience in engineering, many engineers go on to obtain a professional engineering (PE) license in order to advance within their organization. There may be additional on-the-job training, but this isn’t always the case, and often depends on how “hands-on” the specific position is.

Adapted from 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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