Water & Wastewater Treatment Plant & System Operator Career

wastewater-treatment-500Working as a water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator sees you directly responsible for helping to provide clean drinking water to the local community.

In this role, you will work to monitor or operate the controls and systems used to clean and treat wastewater or drinking water, as well as testing the water and equipment to ensure that all contaminants are properly removed.

Water & Wastewater Treatment Plant & System Operator Career Snapshot

Almost all of the country’s water and wastewater treatment facilities are government run, which means that most plant and system operators are directly employed by the local government. Workers generally work 40-hour weeks and overtime is very rare. However, the fact that these treatment facilities operate 24 hours a day means that night shifts and weekend work is common depending on the shift schedule.

Further details on a career as a water and wastewater treatment plant and system operator are listed below (statistics from the May 2016 Bureau of Labor Statistics and Onet Online):


is the average annual pay for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators.


increase in employment between 2014 and 2024.


have a High school diploma or equivalent while 17% have a Post-secondary certificate.


The majority of water and wastewater treatment plant positions require at least a high-school diploma or equivalent. Employees will also be required to undergo extensive on-the-job training, and due to the sensitive nature of the work, you may first need to submit to a background check and obtain a security clearance before being hired.

Job Duties

The main duties of a system operator involves running water treatment and chemical processing equipment and systems. However, the actual duties vary depending on the specific position and some operators are mostly responsible for collecting and testing samples to ensure the system is functioning properly.


The average salary of a water and wastewater treatment worker is quite high considering that the job requires no formal education or training. In 2015, the average median salary of all workers in this industry was just under $46,000 according to BLS.gov reports. However, those workers with a post-secondary certificate or a bachelor’s degree can often expect a salary closer to $70,000 a year. On the other hand, entry-level workers should probably expect a salary closer to $27,000 until they have built up a few years of relevant experience.

Job Outlook

Water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators can look forward to ample job opportunities in the future. The total number of jobs in this field is expected to grow by around 6 percent between 2014 and 2024. While this is about the same as the national average for careers, the increasing number of retirees should ensure that job prospects remain excellent for the foreseeable future.

Water & Wastewater Treatment Plant & System Operator Skills & Traits

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators Skill Set:Required Abilities:Tools Used by Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators:Typical Work Activities:
• Operation and Control
• Operation Monitoring
• Monitoring
• Quality Control Analysis
• Oral Expression
• Near Vision
• Oral Comprehension
• Written Comprehension
• Chlorine handling equipment
• Mixers or agitators
• Nitrogen or nitrate or nitrite analyzer
• Packaged water treatment systems
• Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
• Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
• Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events
• Getting Information

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