What does a water treatment operator do?
Water treatment operators work in water treatment plants that treat water and distribute it to the public. They operate the equipment and monitor the processes that remove harmful microorganisms, chemicals, and other materials from the water. They conduct tests and read meters and gauges to ensure the processes are working efficiently. They also make the necessary adjustments. Water treatment operators often take samples and keep detailed records of the quality of the water. They are also responsible for keeping records that document compliance with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations.
What kind of training does a water treatment operator need?
Water treatment operators must have at least a high school diploma. Some complete formal training programs in water quality to remain competitive in the field because it minimizes the amount of on the job training. Most employers provide on the job training where new water treatment operators start out as operators in training or attendants and learn the essential skills under the supervision of an experienced operator. All states require water treatment operators to be certified. Requirements typically include minimum education and experience. Water treatment operators must complete regular continuing education to maintain their certifications and keep their skills up to date.
What are the prospects for a career as a water treatment operator?
Employment of water treatment operators is expected to grow much faster than average for all professions, increasing 20% from 2008 to 2018 (1). The growing population and increased demand for water treatment services will drive job growth.
Job prospects are expected to be excellent especially for water treatment operators that are highly qualified. Many job openings will arise from the need to replace water treatment operators that retire, transfer, or leave the field for other reasons.
How much do water treatment operators make?
As of January 2010, water treatment operators with 1 to 4 years experience earn average annual salaries between $29,295 and $42,202. Those with 5 to 9 years experience earn average annual salaries between $29,051 and $47,397 (2).
A career as a water treatment operator is a great choice for people with a strong interest in performing a variety of tasks to ensure the safety of water for human use. Water treatment operators must have a solid understanding of water treatment processes and the equipment used. Mechanical aptitude, detail orientation, critical thinking, and good problem solving skills are necessary characteristics. Water treatment operators must be able to apply information to formulas that determine requirements for treatment. They must closely follow safety procedures to avoid injury and contamination.