Written by: Matt Ziegler

Are you interested in where our drinking water comes from, or how our cities and towns handle all of the wastewater that is generated by our modern society? Do you care about the health of your community and its future? Are you looking for a career that pays well with the potential for growth? If so, then a career as a water utility operator might be just what you are looking for.

Certified drinking water and wastewater utility operators are in high demand these days. The industry is seeing the retirements of those operators that went to work in the 70’s and 80’s and is in need of new, trained, and certified operators to carry on the infrastructure that supports our communities. As this transition in the workforce continues, our smallest water utilities that serve our smallest communities will be most challenged to hire qualified personnel.

So, how do you go about getting trained and certified to do this sort of work? It doesn’t take much to start, just a high school diploma or GED, some on-the-job training, and a willingness to learn. Within just 6-12 months of working at a water utility, you will be able to sit for an exam to become a certified drinking water or wastewater operator. Passing that exam and having that certificate lets everyone know that you are a professional with the knowledge and the experience to operate your community’s infrastructure and protect their health.

For many of us, preparing for, taking, and passing the water operator exam will be the biggest roadblock on our road to career riches. Maybe you haven’t taken a standardized exam since you were in high school and even then you never liked them? Maybe you know the material but freeze up when it comes to the exam? Maybe you don’t know how to study or your brain just doesn’t work that way anymore? Preparing for, taking, and passing the water operator exams can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow these tips:

– Identify subject areas where you need to study
– Develop a study plan leading up to the exam that specifies when and what you will study
– Gather together your study materials from trainings you have attended, state training manuals, and other free or paid sources
– Manage your study time to ensure that you cover all of the material you need to cover
– Take notes while you study and draw sketches to help visualize the information
– Test your knowledge with practice exams or flashcards
– Avoid memorization
– Study with a partner

On exam day, make sure you are well-rested and well-fed before the exam. If you followed all of the tips above, then you are prepared and know the materials. Take your time, relax, and don’t second guess yourself. You have already done all of the heavy lifting and the exam gives you the opportunity to show it!

Becoming a certified water utility operator is both challenging and rewarding. There is the opportunity to learn something new every day, serve your community, and protect the public’s health. There is a huge need for people like you to take up this career and help move us forward into the future. It has been said that water is life and that has never been more true when it comes to the life of our communities.