A wastewater treatment operator is in charge of reading, interpreting, and adjusting gauges and water meters in order to ensure that the wastewater treatment equipment are all working properly. The wastewater treatment operator is also in charge of controlling these devices that contain the chemicals needed in order to clean the water, performing lab analysis of the water, and in checking and adjusting the presence of chemicals in the water such as chlorine.
There are some instances where a wastewater treatment operator is needed and may be called on during an emergency like when a heavy rain storm causes flooding of waste water to travel to sewers which is more than what a wastewater treatment plant can handle. Another emergency case could be the situations inside the wastewater treatment plant, like a chemical leak for example. When these situations happen, a wastewater treatment operator works under pressure in order to fix the problems as soon as possible. As some working situations may pose as a hazard, a wastewater treatment operator must also exercise caution while working.
A wastewater treatment operator requires a high school diploma. A wastewater treatment operator also needs to be competent in the basics of math and the sciences of biology and chemistry. Experience in working with computers is a plus, and some companies hire high school graduates whom they train on the job, who later on become a licensed wastewater treatment operator.
If a person completes an associate degree or a 1 year certificate program in water quality and/or wastewater treatment technology increases the likelihood of getting hired and getting promoted in the future as well. Such certificate programs are available through trade associations which can be found all over the country. These certificate programs offer general knowledge of the processes in water and wastewater treatment processes, including basic skills needed in becoming a wastewater treatment operator.
A wastewater treatment operator in the United States of America needs to pass an examination that certifies their capability of running wastewater treatment plant operations and functions. There are 49 states that require the examination, while the remaining state accepts a voluntary certification program. There are actually different stages or levels of certification that makes a wastewater treatment operator qualified to do more tasks in a water plant.
A wastewater treatment operator trainee usually begins as an attendant or operator-in-training and gets the chance to learn the job through the guidance of a tenured wastewater treatment operator. By observing and performing routine tasks like recording meter readings, taking water samples, and engaging in maintenance work on wastewater plant equipment, these trainees get the skills and knowledge they will need and use while on the job. Bigger wastewater plants mix classroom training with on-the-job training for their trainees.
In being a wastewater treatment operator, prior experience is not always required. As long as you have a high school diploma and you possess the qualities mentioned above and are willing to undergo on-the-job training, you most likely have a chance on becoming a wastewater treatment operator.
Becoming a wastewater treatment operator will be a thriving career as the applicants are low and the chances of a qualified person getting hired are pretty high. Applicants will not find a lot of competition in becoming a wastewater treatment operator as the job involves a lot of physical work and can get dirty at times.
An average salary of more than $38,300 awaits a wastewater treatment operator. Other benefits like life and health insurance and a retirement plan also await a wastewater treatment operator.