What does it take to be a water treatment plant operator?

[ Background music ]>>This started out as a job and ended up to be a career path. When I first started working here, I didn’t think I’d be here after 31 years. It’s just turned into a career. An operator watches over the equipment and the process in a facility. They take measurements and readings and make sure the equipment is operating properly and the organisms are doing their job so we have a safe product to put out into the street.>>Being a water treatment plant operator is hands on. You really have to pay attention to what you’re doing and the surroundings and you learn actually from being here. Come in and check our pressures and our tanks and we start up intake and then we go through our treatment process checking all the chemicals and making sure they’re properly filled and all pumps are working correctly. Then we do water tests throughout the day to make sure that our chemicals are reacting the way they should and that our water is being produced at the highest quality that can be made.>>You need chemical aptitude, you need mathematics, you need science, common sense because you use it all in your job. You’re smelling for strange odors, looking for things that are strange, listening for things and in the process they do troubleshooting to make sure things that are not quite right function properly to what’s going on with them.>>A lot of chemistry and a lot of algebra. We use formulas throughout the day very heavily. Everything we have has a formula to it and you can’t really figure anything out unless you have a formula to get that final answer.>>We like to bring somebody as a trainee with no real knowledge. It would be nice if they have some math and science background, but we bring them in and we train them all the way up and if they take schooling or we provide some instruction and get their licenses and train them here on the job, but there are some courses out there where you can take all the courses to get a degree in water and waste water management and have the skill set to give to [inaudible] for that job.>>I just recently got certified. I’m a class 3 operator. I had to go through 4 days, 3 days of schooling and the fourth day was test day. It was a 100-question test and it was over regulations and the treatment process and everything that pertained to it thereafter. I love my job; I really do. My job is a good job that you can count on not going nowhere. It’s a job that you feel proud of at the end of the day. You know at the end of the day you’re keeping other kids and other families safe. I have a family of my own and I want to make sure they’re getting the best water possible and I like to make sure everybody else is getting the same opportunity.>>We’re protecting one of man’s most important resources and it’s water. We’re guardians of the environment the best we can. [ Background music ]

Glenn Chapman


  1. Our business is built around these pros! We salute you! MyWaterPlantJobs (dot) com – the only job board dedicated to those who work in water & wastewater treatment facilities!

  2. Hey was just wondering, what other qualifications did u have to become an OIT or was it just the OIT certificate?

  3. I have been a C operator for 4 years. I just started working at an A plant. nervous but excited. great career choice.

  4. I'm about to interview for a position as an assistant operator (basically an intern). Any advice for how I should prepare? I'm a Civil Eng. undergrad, by the way.

  5. Do you think that being a Civil Eng. undergrad makes you smarter? By the way, it DOESN'T.

  6. my brother works in the lab for water treatment and told me that i should look into plant operator as a possible career. seems like a male dominated profession, but i've read that women are slowly starting to take on the operator position…what should i be expecting? is it really that physically demanding? thanks guys

  7. Most.John Q Public could care less, where their water comes from as long the tap.works

  8. Does anybody know how many licenced operators are required to be on duty at an existing pre-treatment plant in pennsylvania? I have reason to believe that our local plant currently employs 2 licenced operators – and both are out due to job-related injuries and health issues…. Is this a safety issue? Thanks for your input!

  9. I'm majoring into wastewater treatment, can someone give me advice about this field?

  10. Hi everyone,
    I have my water treatment T2 and Distribution D2 license from state and have been looking for a job here in Northern California. It's kinda hard to get one whithout experience and its almost been more than 5 months now and still haven't got a job. Any advices in how to get your foot into water industry??

  11. Hi everyone i was looking into this career. However it does require 12 hour shifts and to be on call. The only thing i would like to know is if this career balances with life as well.

  12. Most people don't think about water quality. Many buy bottled simply because it's convenient. But in my opinion, having high quality assured water is one of the things that sets America apart from many other places around the world. The only other countries that can compare to our standards are most of the European ones, the UK/Canada, and maybe Iceland. I think in South America, only Argentina and maybe Uruguay might come close to US water quality. We do add chlorine and sometimes fluorine in some cities. The fluorine debate continues. Meanwhile, have a cartridge filter installed for the kitchen.

  13. If you have OIT licence for both water and wastewater operator, can you do the training both in the same time or is it hard to do both.

  14. If you're interested in becoming a water treatment operator, check out the following book that include 4 practice exams for the state certification test: http://amzn.to/2apiAOQ .

  15. I'm at the other end of my career, ready to retire in another 5-7 years. Got my Class 1 (In VA it is reversed, Class 1 being the highest licensure). We need young guys in this field. I work in a ~6.0 MGD Reverse Osmosis Plant. All our operators are over 55. There are many good paying jobs that are going wanting in VA. Check out the job boards. You can start out around $30k with a class3 license, or ~$50K with a Class 1 in Northern VA.

  16. I have an interview tomorrow. Do you see many women in this field because I'm excited about it. I think it's the perfect working environment.

  17. Been a water/wastewater operator since I was 18. 18 years now. Level 3 in Oregon. Went to school for it. Love it! Get paid good money and not much manual labor. Not many young people think about this kind of career path because it's not glamorous. Maybe someday that will change.

  18. This is the best job in the world! I am responsible for so many people "guardian of the environment" "Protector of mans most valuable resource" that's me!

    Then why do you knowingly inject fluoride a toxic waste by-product into our drinking water??

    Why are you bastards allowing this???

  19. Hi there folks i would like to work as a water treatment operator in your country,
    I am currently working here now on KSA a a water treatment operator 8 years of experiences..Can somebody tell me what to do?ohhh by the way i am a Filipino πŸ™‚

  20. I'm going to school for water environmental technology next year . it's an associates degree program. I'll be 32 when I finish I hope I'll be able to get a job when I graduate . I've literally spent the last 12 years working jerk off part time jobs on and off and taking part time college courses

  21. It's a great career. Everyone I mentored became a water treatment operator, and they love their job.

  22. It is also a critical job that you cannot get laid off from due to city or state budge cuts..water like power is critical.

  23. damn… I bet working there makes you wanna pee all the time! One thing to consider I guess…

  24. Im moving to alaska and im staying there for 8 months to train for this. Im so excited. Im also nervous as well….

  25. I just finished applying for an operator-in-training position. I really hope I get the job

  26. I do not know much about this job/career but I have question.Why does the guy think the job is not going anywhere.As far as, being outsourced I can see why that would be difficult and how it would be best to do it locally.However, the job seems ripe for automation, at least in the future.We may not be there yet, but what makes people think that one day technology will not be good enough to have robots or machines doing all this work.Like, what would stop a piece of code from telling machines how to test the chemical makeup of the water, how to take measurements or program all the regulations into the code.Maybe, someone in the field can educate me about what part of the job can only be done by a human, not just now but in the future as well.

  27. I have been in the water industry almost 30 years. I started as part time on the field crew. It took a couple years before I was moved to full time. I worked on pipeline installs, service line installs, main and service leaks and anything else that came up. I also learned how to operate heavy equipment. Every four weeks I was on call which that I was responsible for the treatment plant and any customer calls. I found that plant operations is what I really enjoyed. I was with the district about 19 years when our chief operator retired. We are a small district and there was only one person with more time in than myself. He didn't want the position so I happily volunteered. I have been the chief operator for ten years now and there is never a dull moment. It's a great career. It's a career that I think go's under the radar. At this time in California, and I assume across the states, there is a huge shortage of operators. Guys are retiring and districts are struggling to find qualified operators. The state requires operators have a grade based on their system. Systems are graded T1 thru T5. The chief operator must have a state cert equal to or greater than the requirement. Districts are having a difficult time filling the positions. For example, let's say Joe, Louis and Steve have worked at the same district for about the same amount of time. Let's say 35 years. Joe, Louis and Steve know more about their treatment plant than anyone else. They have seen it all. They understand all the nuances, the equipment, the chemistry and everything else their plant has ever thrown at them. What they know can't be taught or handed down to a new operator. The reason these three know so much is because they don't have the word quit in their vocabulary. Lot's of other operators have come and gone but these three love what they do and they stuck with it. So all three are going to retire at about the same time. How in the world is management going to fill these vacancies? I know from experience that the younger guys (not all) don't have anywhere near the desire to bust their butts for the job. And another thing, they have absolutely no mechanical skills. I know I'm painting a broad stroke but this is what I've seen and I know other districts are seeing the same kind of thing with new hires. I encourage anyone looking to land a solid career in the water or waste water industry to study, take the state exam and apply. And if you get hired always befriend the veteran operators. Let them talk. You listen. I always kind of told myself when I was new, eyes and ears open and mouth closed for five years.

  28. I've got a question if somebody can please help me. Basically I live in Southern California and I saw that they had a water technology course at a college near where I live. Well I recently got out of prison and really want to go into this field but I just wanted to know, will my felony prohibit me from this even getting hired in this field? Like is this considered a government/state position or where that would be a problem for me? :/ Thanks.

  29. Have worked on a 80MGD plant for 36 years now. Worked every area of the plant . Now running cryogenic liquid oxygen plant for the reactors . Have a 5SA license . This plant use to have over 200 operators . It's a 66 acre plant . Now less than 80 since everything went to computers . In the next 5 years over half the plant will retire . Hard to get new people . It's a good job . Make over 60K a year with 24 vacation days , 12 sick days , and 4 personal leave days a year . That builds with time not at start .. Only draw back is someone always has to be here. Your relief calls off and you can't get someone to come in = you are stuck working another 8 hours . But you get time and half over 8 , and double time an half on holidays . A 16 hour shift on a holiday is 5 days pay .. Retire at 30 years with 45% of your pay pension . And another 1.8% every year after . You would think they would be lined up . Believe young people just don't know about these jobs or are scared they might get dirty ..

  30. Is there a career for this? like, should a chemical engineer fit in this field or something like that?

  31. I've been in water treatment for 16 years. Two and a half in maintenance, the rest as an operator. Great job, very stable job. I received my "A" certification in '09, highest certification in South Carolina. This is really an unknown field, a small field and because of that not many young people in water. I'm 44, from '05-'16 I was the youngest operator b/w 2 plants (12 operators) by ten years and until '18, I was the youngest "A" operator. Within the next year, two operators will be retiring at my plant and in 2-3 years 3 operators at our sister plant will be retiring. Several years ago, the average age of an operator in South Carolina was 57. This field needs more young people. It's a great job, you won't get rich, but you'll have unbelievable job stability.

  32. I'm about to go through an apprenticeship program. Anyone wanting to do this look in your state online for apprenticeship.

  33. Im wondering if math skills are essential to this career? I always get stopped in my tracks trying to advance because i struggle with mathematics; specifically Algebra and Trigonometry.

  34. I’m about to join the program. Just need to register for classs this fall! Nervous 😬

  35. Some of those guys look very dressed-down. Is that typical of a water treatment facility?

  36. I started with the city as a level 1.
    It is a GREAT job. The math is easy and the science isn't that hard to learn IF you have a good trainer.
    My trainer was amazing and taught me so much!

  37. I'm 28 years old. Been trucking since I was 23. My buddy told me about this job. Pays well, and its secured. He knows more about it than me. I just started doing research on it. And I like it and seems like something I would like to do. I'm from Southern California. Any tips???

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *