Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
- Education Required
- Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators typically need a high school diploma or equivalent to become operators. Employers may prefer applicants who have completed a certificate, an associates, or a bachelors degree program in a related field such as environmental science or wastewater treatment technology.
- Training Required
- Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators need long-term on-the-job training to become fully qualified. Water and wastewater treatment is a complex process. Trainees 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. They also learn about industrial safety and how to use personal protective equipment.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: -3% (Decline)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- 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 perform more complicated processes without supervision.
- 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.
- Median pay: How much do Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators make?
- $45,760 Annual Salary
- $22.00 per hour
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.
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
- Document and report test results to regulatory agencies
- 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 many steps to get water from natural sourcesreservoirs, streams, and groundwaterinto peoples houses. 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 and wastewater treatment plant and system operators must be able to manually operate the equipment if there is a plant malfunction due to power outages or electrical issues.
Careers for Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators
- Industrial waste treatment technicians
- Lead sewage plant operators
- Liquid waste treatment plant operators
- Sewage plant operators
- Waste treatment operators
- Wastewater operators
- Wastewater treatment plant and system operators
- Wastewater treatment plant operators
- Water plant operators
- Water treatment plant and system operators
- Water treatment plant operators
- Water treatment technicians