Wastewater Operator Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Wastewater Operator Do?

One of the essential services cities and governments provide to their citizens is water and wastewater treatment. Monitoring and treating water helps ensure a safe water supply for the entire community. Wastewater operators play an essential role in this process. 

Wastewater operators operate equipment to purify and clarify water or to process or dispose of sewage. Along with monitoring, regulating, and correcting water quality, they clean and maintain equipment, tanks, filter beds, and other work areas.

Most wastewater operators are employed by local governments, at water and wastewater treatment plants, or for local and regional utility companies.

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National Average Salary

Wastewater operator salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site zengig.com.

The average U.S. salary for a Wastewater Operator is:


Wastewater Operator Job Descriptions

The first step when hiring a great wastewater operator is a well-crafted job description. Below are real-world examples to help give you the best chance of success on your recruiting journey.

Example 1

[Your company name] is hiring wastewater operators. Wastewater operators do the important job of cleaning and disinfecting used water so that it’s safe to be released into the environment or used in irrigation. These individuals use chemicals to test and treat the water, operate machines, and analyze samples of water to ensure that safety standards are met. If you are detail-oriented with excellent mathematical, analytical, and mechanical skills, a wastewater operator job at our company could be the perfect fit. 

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Operate equipment to purify and clarify water, process it, or dispose of sewage
  • Collect and test water and sewage samples
  • Document and report test results to regulatory agencies
  • Add chemicals as needed to disinfect water or other liquids
  • Monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges
  • Record meter and gauge readings and operational data
  • Clean and maintain equipment, tanks, filter beds, and other work areas
  • Follow U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations
  • Meet safety standards

Education and experience

  • High school diploma or GED required
  • Wastewater operator certification preferred

Required skills and qualifications

  • Ability to use computer programs for process control
  • Strong communication and teamwork skills
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Ability to stand for extended periods, both indoors and outdoors

Preferred qualifications

  • 3+ years of experience working with wastewater
  • Excellent analytical skills
  • Extreme attention to detail
  • Strong mathematical skills

Example 2

ABC Company is seeking a Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator. This person will be responsible for the operation, maintenance, and supervision of wastewater treatment.


  • Operates and maintains wastewater system including servicing of pumps, motors, valves, generators, and equipment
  • Maintains pump stations
  • Perform sample collection, preparation, and laboratory testing
  • Maintain records, perform data entry, and provide detailed reporting
  • Ensures completion of work assignments within specified deadlines and in compliance with Federal and State safety regulations and procedures
  • Analyzes and evaluates pump equipment, trouble-shooting malfunctions, and monitoring of water operations
  • Performs preventive maintenance and minor repairs of equipment and infrastructure
  • Performs facility grounds maintenance including cleaning equipment and tanks
  • Perform general landscape maintenance including mowing, trimming, clean-ups, pruning, and other typical landscape maintenance tasks
  • Performs other related duties as directed

Job qualifications

  • High school diploma or GED
  • Class 1 Wastewater Treatment Operator Certification required
  • Valid driver’s license and acceptable Motor Vehicle Records required
  • Experience within a water treatment environment
  • Ability to work independently
  • Strong attention to detail
  • Ability to lift up to 50 lbs.
  • Requires the ability to read, write, compile, and analyze data and reports daily
  • Ability to monitor control panels, gauges, and meters to ensure proper plant operation
  • Must be available to work weekends, overtime and ‘on-call’ as needed

Example 3

Are you looking for a fantastic career at ABC Company? We have a great opportunity for a Wastewater Operator located in (City, State). Under the direction of the Area Supervisor, this position is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the division’s water treatment plants and collection systems.


Assures the proper operation of wastewater treatment plants and collection systems in accordance with company and division policies and procedures.

  • Performs the necessary monitoring required as part of the operation of the wastewater treatment plants and collection systems
  • Performs all necessary preventive maintenance on wastewater treatment plants and collection systems
  • Inspects daily and maintains the condition and appearance of all stations
  • Maintains all records pertaining to maintenance and treatment as required
  • Conducts sampling of the distribution system and wastewater treatment plants and collection systems as needed
  • Participates in on-call duty
  • Performs other related duties and assignments as required


  • Possess a high school diploma or equivalent
  • Possess valid NJDEP Class, S2 and C2 licenses
  • Candidate must possess a valid driver’s license

Working conditions/physical demands

  • May be subject to extreme temperatures, noise, wet and/or humid conditions, mechanical, electrical, gas exposure hazards, fumes, dusts, mists, gases, and/or poor ventilation atmospheric conditions
  • Must be able to lift and carry up to 50 lbs.
  • Working conditions may include travel to work sites of Essential Utilities and/or other constituents

Example 4

Your opportunity

This position is responsible for tending the pumps and other equipment used to decontaminate wastewater (sewage). Operator is responsible for collecting samples; reading charts and flow meters and gauges to determine equipment malfunctions and performing minor repairs on equipment.

Core responsibilities

  • Tends pumps, conveyors, blowers, chlorinators, vacuum filters, and other equipment used to decontaminate wastewater (sewage) by settling, aeration, and sludge digestion
  • Collects samples and makes process reports
  • Reads charts, flow meters, and gauges to detect equipment malfunctions
  • In the absence of key personnel, the employee’s supervisor or qualified designee (one that has been trained in the key employee’s duties) is responsible to complete or delegate the completion of all required tasks and responsibilities


  • High school diploma or general education degree (GED) and 2+ years relevant experience and/or training, required
  • Class I Wastewater License (or able to acquire within 3 years of employment); and Class I Water License (or able to acquire within 2 years of employment)
  • Ability to effectively present information in one-on-one small group situations to customers, clients, and other employees of the organization
  • Ability to carry out instructions furnished in written, verbal or diagram form
  • Knowledge Microsoft Office, including Excel and Word
  • Must be able to travel occasionally with possible extended overnight stays
  • Must be available for night and weekend on-call status
  • Ability to work well with others in fast-paced, dynamic environment
  • Ability to be respectful, approachable and team oriented while building strong working relationships and a positive work environment

Work environment & physical demands

  • The plant environment will include include outdoor weather conditions, wet or humid conditions (non-weather related), extreme cold and heat (non-weather related), working near moving mechanical parts, exposure to fumes or airborne particles, and chemicals
  • Noise level in the work environment is usually moderate but can be loud when in the production area
  • Occasionally lift and/or move up to 50 pounds
  • Specific vision abilities required include close vision, distance vision, and ability to adjust focus
  • Frequently required to sit, stand, walk; use hands to handle, or feel, and talk or hear; reach with hands and arms; stoop, kneel, crouch, or crawl

Candidate Certification to Look For

Operator Certification

Offered by the Association of Boards of Certification, this certification can be earned either through testing or reciprocity. There are four levels of certification, in addition to a specialty in very small water systems. Getting certified can help candidates advance their careers, earn higher wages, and perform their jobs successfully.

How to Hire a Wastewater Operator

When hiring a wastewater operator, first consider the following:

  • Recruiting: Do you have the knowledge, tools, and resources to attract and screen candidates?
  • Complexity: Do you need a senior professional, or will mid or junior-level skills and experience suffice?
  • Duration: Is this a one-time project or an ongoing need?
  • Management: Do you have the time and expertise to direct the work effectively?
  • Urgency: How soon does the work need to be completed?
  • Headcount: Do you have the budget and approval for an internal employee, or should you consider alternate options?

Answering these questions will help determine the best course of action for your current hiring need. Fortunately, great options exist for every scenario. These are our recommendations:

1. Use 4 Corner Resources (or another professional recruiting firm)

The heavy lifting is done for you when working with a top-tier staffing company like 4 Corner Resources. We source, screen, recruit, and deliver only the most qualified candidate(s), saving you significant time and effort throughout the hiring process while you remain focused on your core business. Understanding your needs and ensuring the right candidate for the position is the key to our success.

This is the best route to take when:

  • You need to fill the position quickly
  • You want access to a vast talent pool of high-quality, prescreened candidates
  • Your position is suited for temporary hiring services, contract staffing, or contract-to-hire recruiting, and you intend to direct the work activity.
  • You are hiring an employee as a direct placement but aren’t able to recruit effectively or efficiently with your internal staff. 
  • You aren’t familiar with current salary rates, market trends, and available skill sets
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2. Advertise your opening on a top job board

Your best option may be to advertise your opening on a proven job board. There are many widely used job sites out there that draw visits from qualified candidates. If you have someone internally who can dedicate the time and energy to sort through applications and screen individuals effectively, this can be a great choice. 

We recommend using a job board when:

  • Your internal recruiting team has the knowledge and experience to assess candidate qualifications
  • You are hiring a direct employee and have time to manage the entire recruiting effort 
  • You have a process for receiving, screening, and tracking all resumes and applications
  • You are prepared to respond to all applicants

We recommend CareerBuilder when hiring a wastewater operator:


CareerBuilder has been a trusted source for hiring since 1995. Reach 80+ million unique, diverse U.S. job seekers annually by posting your jobs through their talent acquisition channels. Through CareerBuilder, you can engage candidates and drive them into your sourcing pipeline. We recommend using CareerBuilder for hiring when you have the internal resources and processes to review, screen, and reply to all applicants.

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3. Leverage your internal resources

You can utilize your own website, social media, and employees to assist in your search for top candidates. 

A company website posting should be the first step in notifying prospective candidates that you are hiring. Social media can also be a powerful tool for spreading the word about your new opening. As far as exposure is concerned, this option can be as good as some job boards when you have a large enough following across various platforms, like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.

Current employees are every organization’s greatest asset. Encourage your internal team to promote job openings to their network by offering cash and other incentives.

We recommend these options when:

  • Your brand has great name recognition
  • You can consistently monitor and respond to candidate activity through your website and social media accounts
  • You have a process in place to quickly and broadly communicate job openings and requirements
  • You have an effective employee referral program in place

If you aren’t sure which path is best, schedule a discovery call today with our seasoned recruiting professionals. The 4 Corner team is on standby to help you find the best option for your unique hiring need.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What skills and qualities do you have that make you a good wastewater operator?
  • What responsibilities did you have in your previous role?
  • Describe the proper procedure for treating and storing wastewater.
  • How do you make sure the facility is operating in a way that complies with regulatory standards?
  • How do you stay current with wastewater regulations and advancements?
  • Describe your experience operating wastewater machinery and equipment.
  • Tell me about a time you made a suggestion that improved efficiency in your plant. 
  • Describe a time you’ve had to troubleshoot an equipment problem.
  • Describe a time you received criticism from your supervisor. How did you respond? 
  • Explain your process for double-checking your work to avoid mistakes.

Need help hiring a Wastewater Operator?

We match top professionals with great employers across the country. From filling urgent job openings to developing long-term hiring strategies, our team is here to help. Review our staffing solutions, browse our award-winning Staffing Corner blog, or call today. We look forward to connecting with you soon.

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