Helping Water Utilities Protect Public Health

Certified operators are a critical part of providing an adequate and safe supply of water. Operators can work in water in a selection of capacities: water treatment, distribution, water collection, or wastewater. 


A Look at the Career



Operators make a stable living, earning anywhere from $35,000 to $75,000 depending on geographic location, utilize size and experience. Typically, gaining additional certifications can increase an operators salary by 10-15%.


Operator qualifications differ by state, city and utility. Most operators are required to pass a certification exam within their state that demonstrates their knowledge in math, chemistry and operator practices and procedures.

What to Expect 

Operators often work both indoors and outdoors. Their responsibilities typically include inspect and testing equipment, monitoring operating conditions, collecting water samples andrecording and reporting data and test results.


Operators need to have a variety of skills including:

• Strong mathematical, mechanical and science skills

• Ability to read and interpret charts, graphs and maps

• Ability to engage in logical processes for troubleshooting

• Ability to create records and observations; engage in reporting of issues and lapse of best practices

• Articulates issues, problems and processes clearly

• Excellent interpersonal, verbal and written communication skills

• Demonstrates a strong commitment to plant safety activities, practices and standards

• Willingness to work nights, weekends and holiday shifts - as plants are always running




What Operators Say

“I became an operator first and foremost because of my love of the environment and desire to be a part of protecting it.”


“I love helping the people of NY in this capacity and look forward to explore other opportunities with them in the future or any other utility that will allow the opportunity for advancement.”


“I like the thought of the stability, the serving my community aspect, the pay, vacation time, and being able to retire at 55.”


Important Resources

Water Operator Certification Exam Prep

AWWA’s most popular operator training aid, this study guide is specially designed to give operators and students practice in answering questions that are similar in format and content to the questions on the exam.

Wastewater Operator Certification Study Guide

Pass your exam the first time! This study guide is specially developed to give wastewater operators practice answering questions that are similar in format and content to the questions that appear on certification exams. 

EL6 Applied Mathematics Online Course

This course provides a foundation in applied mathematics as used in the water supply profession. It is suitable for entry-level operators or operators who have not had recent exposure to mathematics in their jobs.

EL7 Basic Mathematics Online Course

Basic Mathematics provides a foundation in basic mathematical notation, methods, and calculations. It is suitable for entry-level operators or operators who have not had recent significant exposure to mathematics in their jobs.