A water analyst plays an integral role in keeping drinking water for both humans and animals safe from bacteria and other contaminants. Due to a rise in pollution, this career is extremely important for maintaining public health. In general, a person must have at least a bachelor's degree in biology, chemistry or a related field before getting into this career. Some typical responsibilities of a water analyst include collecting water samples, performing testing on samples, documenting results, cleaning equipment and keeping track of inventory.
Collecting water samples from a variety of sources is necessary before any testing can be done. For this, a water analyst will travel to a location such as a river, lake or water tower and obtain a sample to bring back to a laboratory. Consequently, this part of the job requires some traveling.
After collecting a sample, a water analyst will perform a series of tests on it. The essential goal of testing is to determine the quality of water and how much pollution it contains. For testing, a sample is often placed onto a glass slide and observed with equipment like a microscope or spectroscope. From there, a water analyst might look for bacteria or other microorganisms that are harmful to humans and animals. Since public safety is at stake, an individual must be highly knowledgeable on water quality and be able to spot potential dangers.
Upon the completion of testing, a water analyst will usually document his results. For example, he might record the location from which a water sample is obtained, the date, any bacteria or other pollutants that are found and the overall level of water quality. Maintaining accuracy is vital, so an individual must be detailed when recording results. This information is usually placed onto a computer database for easy viewing later on. In some cases, a water analyst may also print out graphs that visually display the quality of a water source.
Another part of this job involves cleaning equipment within a laboratory. To maintain safety and ensure accuracy for future tests, it's often necessary for a water analyst to sterilize equipment like beakers and flasks. Along with this, he may need to wipe down counters and clean off microscopes and spectroscopes.
In addition, a water analyst is often responsible for keeping track of inventory and ordering new supplies. This involves doing periodic inventory of a laboratory's storage area and determining which supplies are running low. To ensure a smooth work flow, it's necessary for an individual to order supplies ahead of time before they run out.