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Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator

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High school (GED) +

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What They Do

Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators Career Video

About This Career

Operates or controls an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.

This career is part of the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources cluster Environmental Service Systems pathway.

A person in this career:

  • Adds chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime, to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
  • Collects and tests water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.
  • Records operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
  • Operates and adjusts controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
  • Inspects equipment or monitors operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.
  • Maintains, repairs, and lubricates equipment, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Cleans and maintains tanks, filter beds, and other work areas, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Directs and coordinates plant workers engaged in routine operations and maintenance activities.

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Work in this occupation involves use of protective items such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, a hard hat, or personal flotation devices
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Exposed to conditions such as high voltage electricity, combustibles, explosives, and chemicals more than once a month
  • Work in this occupation requires being inside most of the time
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others
  • Identifying and understanding the speech of another person

Work Hours and Travel

  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work

Specialty and Similar Careers

Careers that are more detailed or close to this career:

  • SCADA Operator (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Operator)
  • Water Plant Operator
  • Water Control Dispatcher
  • Wastewater Operator (WW Operator)
  • Relief Operator
  • Process Operator (Process Op)
  • Plant Operator


  • Email Support
  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900
  • North Dakota Career Resource Network
    ndcrn@nd.gov | (701) 328-9733