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.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
- Operate equipment to purify and clarify water or to process 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 Background
This position requires a high school diploma or GED, preferably with Wastewater Operator certification. Most employers provide on-the-job training.
Skills and Proficiencies
- 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
According to Payscale the median annual salary of a Wastewater Operator with
1 Year of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $41,000
- Tampa, Florida: $42,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $39,000
- Miami, Florida: $39,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $36,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $40,000
- Houston, Texas: $35,000
- Los Angeles, California: $34,000
- New York City, New York: $44,000
- Seattle, Washington: $35,000
- Overall: $37,000
5 Years of Experience:
- Orlando, Florida: $45,000
- Tampa, Florida: $46,000
- Jacksonville, Florida: $44,000
- Miami, Florida: $47,000
- Atlanta, Georgia: $47,000
- Chicago, Illinois: $48,000
- Houston, Texas: $50,000
- Los Angeles, California: $43,000
- New York City, New York: $50,000
- Seattle, Washington: $46,000
- Overall: $47,000
Similar Job Titles
- Field Technician
- Soil Technician
- Geological Engineer
- Environmental Scientist
The path to becoming a Wastewater Operator typically starts with earning a high school diploma or GED. Wastewater Operators can also earn certification to help further their knowledge and experience. At the largest plants, operators who have the highest license level work as shift supervisors and may be in charge of large teams of operators.
As water treatment plants become more advanced due to automation, it’s likely fewer workers in these positions will be needed in the future, or the nature of their jobs will evolve with the technology.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators should decline five percent through 2028.
The typical work hours for a Wastewater Operator can be from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, plants operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In small plants, Wastewater Operators are likely to work during the day and be on call nights and weekends. In medium and large-size plants that require constant monitoring, operators work in shifts to control the facility at all hours.
Where You Can Find Jobs
Are You Interested in Becoming a Wastewater Operator?
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