Is becoming a water treatment plant operator right for me?
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How to become a Water Treatment Plant Operator
Water treatment plant 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 doing simple maintenance and repair work on plant equipment. Larger treatment plants generally 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.
Water treatment plant operators must be licensed by the jurisdiction in which they work. Requirements and standards vary widely depending on the region. Licenses typically have four levels, which depend on the operator's experience and training. Although some jurisdictions will honour licenses from other jurisdictions, operators who move from one to another may need to take a new set of exams to become licensed in their new location.
Water treatment plant 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 water quality management or wastewater treatment technology, because the education minimizes the training a worker will need. Community colleges, technical schools, and trade associations offer these certificate or associate's degree programs.
Water treatment plant operators typically need related work experience to become operators. They often gain experience working as trainees or in other lower level positions in the plant.