Wastewater treatment plants remove harmful contaminants from liquid waste before it is released back into the environment. Liquid waste includes sewage from domestic homes as well as waste from industrial companies. Wastewater treatment plant jobs include introductory and supervisory wastewater operator positions that entail the utilization of chemical and biological processes, as well as various equipment to treat wastewater. Jobs of this nature are found at both public and private wastewater treatment plants, such as small municipal water districts or commercial companies who must send liquid waste to a wastewater treatment plant due to local and federal regulations such as those found in the Clean Water Act.
An entry level wastewater operator will likely have completed a high school degree and acquired training on the job. Wastewater treatment plant jobs at this level may involve checking meters and gauges or working with pumps and valves that move sewage through the system. Entry level workers may also perform sample testing in the lab to ensure contaminants have been removed under the supervision of a more experienced wastewater operator. Repair of equipment and pipes is handled by wastewater operators. Those working at small municipal wastewater plants will likely handle a full range of tasks, while those working at larger facilities will have more focused duties.
For those seeking more advanced wastewater treatment plant jobs, more education is helpful. One-year certificates are available, as well as two-year associate degrees. Armed with more experience and education, wastewater operators can take on supervisory positions directing the tasks of novice operators. Upper level positions have a significant amount of responsibility, as wastewater treatment is an exacting science that requires much care be taken to ensure the health and safety of both the wastewater workers as well as the public. Chemicals must be adjusted properly and safety measures must be accurately adhered to. Wastewater treatment plant jobs can be found at all levels, from operator to plant superintendent. Superintendents are responsible for ensuring entire plants are properly maintained and operated.
Wastewater treatment plant jobs often require certification. This certification is regulated by the state and typically requires continuing education credits as well as a passing score on a state exam. Because the treatment of wastewater must be continuously adjusted based on current environmental status, wastewater jobs require renewed certification and continuing education. Some wastewater treatment plant jobs will require a different type of certification mandated by state and local regulations. Professional organizations as well as public colleges may offer continuing education classes to meet these requirements.