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Top 11 Water Treatment Plant Operator Certifications

This article provides an overview of the top certifications available for water treatment plant operators in order to help them stay up-to-date on industry standards.

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Brenna Goyette
Certified Professional Resume Writer, Career Expert

Published 19 min read

Certifications for water treatment plant operators are important in the job market because they demonstrate an individual’s knowledge and expertise in the field. Holding a certification shows employers that an individual has been trained and is qualified to operate a water treatment plant safely and efficiently. In addition, certifications may be required to work in certain facilities or regions due to legal regulations. Having a certification also makes it easier for employers to verify an operator’s training, experience, and qualifications quickly and accurately. Ultimately, certifications make it easier for employers to identify qualified candidates who have the skills necessary to operate a water treatment plant effectively.

The purpose of this article is to review some of the top certifications for Water Treatment Plant Operators and explain how they can help advance a water treatment plant operator's career.

What are Water Treatment Plant Operator Certifications?

Water treatment plant operator certification is a program that certifies individuals who work in water treatment plants, ensuring they have the necessary knowledge and skills to safely and effectively operate the facility. The certification is offered by many organizations including the National Environmental Training Association (NETA) and the American Water Works Association (AWWA). A certified water treatment plant operator must demonstrate proficiency in areas such as water quality control, process operation, laboratory analysis, safety, and maintenance.

Having a certified water treatment plant operator can help ensure that the facility is operated safely and efficiently. It also helps to protect public health by providing assurance that any water produced from the facility meets all applicable standards for safety and quality. Certified operators are better able to identify potential problems with equipment or processes before they become serious issues, which can save money and resources in the long run. Furthermore, having a certified operator on staff can help to increase customer confidence in the product or service provided by the facility. Ultimately, obtaining certification can provide numerous benefits to both operators and customers alike.

Pro tip: Make sure to research the specific requirements of water treatment plant operator certification in your state before beginning the application process. In many cases, you may need to obtain additional certifications or education in order to be eligible for a license. Additionally, it is important to understand the renewal and continuing education requirements for maintaining your certification.

Related: What does a Water Treatment Plant Operator do?

Top 11 Water Treatment Plant Operator Certifications

Here’s our list of the best certifications available to Water Treatment Plant Operators today.

1. Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator (CWTPO)

Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator (CWTPO) is a certification program offered by the National Environmental Training Association (NETA). It is designed to provide individuals with the knowledge and skills necessary to become certified water treatment plant operators. The program consists of two parts: an online course and an in-person exam.

The online course covers topics such as water chemistry, filtration, disinfection, corrosion control, and wastewater treatment. It typically takes about 40 hours to complete the course. Once completed, individuals can apply to take the in-person exam which consists of 100 multiple-choice questions.

To be eligible for the CWTPO certification exam, applicants must have at least one year of experience working in a water treatment plant or related field. They must also pass a criminal background check and drug screening test prior to taking the exam.

The cost of the CWTPO certification program varies depending on where you take it. Generally speaking, it costs around $400-$500 for both the online course and in-person exam.

2. Certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator (CWWTPO)

Certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator (CWWTPO) is a certification that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and effectively operate, maintain, and manage wastewater treatment plants. The certification is offered by the National Association of Wastewater Technicians (NAWT).

In order to become certified as a CWWTPO, applicants must pass an exam administered by NAWT. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions on topics such as wastewater treatment processes, safety procedures, laboratory analysis, regulations and permit requirements. Applicants must also demonstrate their knowledge of plant operation through hands-on experience in a supervised setting.

The cost for the CWWTPO certification varies depending on the type of examination taken. The standard exam costs $250; however, there are discounts available for members of certain organizations or those taking more than one exam at a time.

The amount of time it takes to complete the certification process varies depending on individual circumstances; however, most applicants can expect to complete the process within 4-6 months.

3. Certified Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator (CDWTPO)

Certified Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator (CDWTPO) is a certification program for individuals who work in drinking water treatment plants. It is offered by the National Environmental Training Association (NETA) and is designed to ensure that operators are knowledgeable and competent in their field. The certification program consists of two levels: basic and advanced.

The Basic level requires passing an exam which covers topics such as water treatment processes, safety regulations, and operational principles. This exam can be taken at any NETA-approved testing center or online through the NETA website. The cost of the exam varies depending on the location but typically ranges from $100-$150. Once passed, the operator will receive a certificate of completion which is valid for three years before needing to be renewed.

The Advanced level requires additional training and experience in order to qualify for certification. This includes completing a minimum of 10 hours of approved continuing education courses within the three-year period following the successful completion of the Basic level exam. These courses cover topics such as wastewater treatment processes, laboratory analysis, chemical safety, and other related topics. Upon completion of these courses, operators must pass an additional examination which covers more advanced material related to drinking water treatment plant operations.

The cost of obtaining a Certified Drinking Water Treatment Plant Operator (CDWTPO) certification depends on several factors including whether you choose to take the exams online or at a testing center, how much continuing education you need to complete, and whether you need to take any additional classes or seminars prior to taking the exams. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $200-$500 depending on your individual circumstances.

4. National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The National Environmental Balancing Bureau (NEBB) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have successfully completed the required training and passed the certification exam. The certification is designed to ensure that water treatment plant operators are knowledgeable in all aspects of water treatment, including operations, maintenance, safety, and regulatory compliance.

It typically takes between six months and two years to complete the training and pass the certification exam. Training requirements vary depending on the state or jurisdiction in which you are seeking certification. Generally, applicants must complete courses in water chemistry, basic mathematics, water treatment processes, instrumentation and control systems, safety procedures, regulations and laws related to water treatment plants.

To get NEBB Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator Certification one must first complete an approved training program from an accredited institution. After completing the program they must then apply for the certification exam through NEBB's website. Once accepted into the program they will be assigned a mentor who will guide them through the process of taking and passing their examination.

The cost for NEBB Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator Certification varies depending on where you are getting certified as well as any additional fees associated with taking the exam or obtaining materials for study purposes. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$2000 USD to become certified.

5. American Water Works Association (AWWA) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to operate a water treatment plant. This certification is designed to ensure that operators of water treatment plants are knowledgeable in the operation and maintenance of their facilities, as well as safety practices.

To become certified, applicants must complete an approved training program and pass an exam. The training program typically takes between six months to two years to complete depending on the operator’s experience level. After completing the training program, applicants must take a written exam administered by AWWA. The cost of the exam varies depending on the applicant’s location but generally ranges from $150 - $400 USD. Once passed, the certification is valid for three years and can be renewed by taking a refresher course or passing another exam.

Overall, becoming an AWWA Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a great way for operators to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in operating water treatment plants safely and effectively.

6. Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a professional certification program for water treatment plant operators. It is designed to demonstrate a high level of competency and knowledge in the operation and maintenance of water treatment plants. The ABC Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator certification is valid for three years and requires renewal every three years.

To become an ABC Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator, applicants must have at least one year of experience in operating a water treatment plant or related facility, as well as successfully complete an approved training program. Applicants must also pass an exam administered by the ABC to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the principles and practices associated with operating a water treatment plant.

The cost to become an ABC Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator varies depending on the training program chosen by the applicant. Generally, costs range from $400-$800 USD per person, which includes all materials, exams, and certificates.

7. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a certification program that provides water treatment plant operators with the knowledge and skills necessary to safely and effectively operate a water treatment plant. The program consists of a series of courses and exams that cover topics such as water chemistry, safety, regulations, operations, maintenance, and troubleshooting.

It typically takes about two years to complete the program and obtain the certification. The first step is to complete the NSF Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator Course, which is offered online or in-person at various locations around the country. This course covers basic concepts in water treatment plant operation and prepares students for the exams required to become certified. After completing this course, students must take and pass both written and practical exams administered by NSF International.

The cost of obtaining the certification varies depending on where you take the courses and exams. Generally speaking, it can cost anywhere from $500-$1000 for all of the necessary materials and fees associated with becoming certified.

Once you have obtained your certification, you will need to renew it every three years by completing continuing education credits or retaking the exam. You may also be required to attend additional training sessions if new regulations or technologies are introduced in your area.

8. Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a certification that allows professionals to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in the field of water treatment. It is designed for those who work in water treatment plants, such as operators, technicians, engineers, and other professionals. The certification is valid for three years after which it must be renewed.

To become certified, applicants must complete a training program approved by the IICRC and pass an examination. The training program typically consists of classroom instruction and practical experience in water treatment operations. Upon successful completion of the program, applicants can then take the exam to receive their certification.

The cost of becoming certified varies depending on the type of training program chosen. Generally speaking, the cost ranges from around $500 to $900 USD for a basic course or up to several thousand dollars for more advanced courses.

In addition to completing a training program and passing an exam, applicants must also meet certain requirements set by the IICRC such as having at least two years of experience in water treatment operations or have completed an approved apprenticeship program.

9. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a professional certification program designed to recognize the knowledge and skills of those who operate water treatment plants. This certification is intended for operators who are responsible for the operation and maintenance of drinking water systems, wastewater systems, and other related facilities.

It typically takes about two years to become an ASCE Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator. During this time, individuals must complete a minimum of 30 hours of approved training in the areas of water treatment plant operations, safety practices, laboratory analysis methods, and regulations. Additionally, they must pass an examination that tests their knowledge in these areas.

To get certified as an ASCE Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator, individuals must apply for certification with the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). They will need to submit proof of completion of approved training courses along with their application. Once approved by ASCE, applicants will be required to take and pass a written exam administered by ASCE or its designated testing agency.

The cost to become an ASCE Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator varies depending on the number of courses taken and the type of courses taken. Generally speaking, the cost can range from $100-$500 USD depending on what is required for certification.

10. American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator is a certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated knowledge and proficiency in the operation and maintenance of water treatment plants. This certification is offered to those who are employed in the water treatment industry, such as plant operators, chemists, engineers, and other professionals.

In order to obtain this certification, applicants must complete an approved training program and pass a comprehensive examination. The training program typically consists of classroom instruction and on-the-job experience in the operation of water treatment plants. Upon successful completion of the training program, applicants must pass a written exam that covers topics such as water chemistry, plant operations and maintenance, safety procedures, and regulations.

The cost for obtaining ACEC Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator certification varies depending on the type of training program chosen. Generally speaking, it can range from $500 to $2000 or more. Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with taking the exam.

The amount of time required to obtain this certification also varies depending on the type of training program chosen; however, it typically takes between 6 months and 1 year to complete all requirements for the certification.

11. Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator

The Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator (CWTPO) is a voluntary certification program that recognizes individuals who have demonstrated the knowledge and skills necessary to operate and maintain a drinking water treatment plant. The CWTPO certification is available to operators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

To become an ASDWA Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator, applicants must meet certain requirements such as having a high school diploma or equivalent; holding a valid state operator’s license; completing an approved training program; passing an exam administered by ASDWA; and paying the associated fees. Depending on the state in which you are applying for certification, additional requirements may apply.

The process typically takes several months to complete due to the need to complete training courses and pass the exam. The cost of becoming an ASDWA Certified Water Treatment Plant Operator varies depending on the state in which you are applying for certification. Generally speaking, it can range from $100-$400 USD depending on your state’s requirements.

Do You Really Need a Water Treatment Plant Operator Certificate?

The answer to this question depends on the individual's goals and aspirations. For some, a Water Treatment Plant Operator Certificate is essential for career advancement, while for others it may be an unnecessary expense.

For those looking to become water treatment plant operators, having a certificate can be invaluable. It shows employers that the applicant has taken the time to learn the necessary skills and knowledge required to properly operate and maintain a water treatment plant. With a certificate, applicants may also have access to higher pay and better job opportunities than those without one. Additionally, states often require certification for water treatment plant operators working in public facilities.

On the other hand, individuals who are already employed as water treatment plant operators may not need a certificate if their current employer does not require it or if their job responsibilities do not require additional training or qualifications. In these cases, pursuing a certificate could be costly and time-consuming with no guarantee of increased job prospects or salary.

Ultimately, whether or not someone needs a Water Treatment Plant Operator Certificate will depend on their individual circumstances and career goals. Those looking to advance in their careers should strongly consider obtaining certification while those who are happy with their current jobs may find it unnecessary.

Related: Water Treatment Plant Operator Resume Examples

FAQs About Water Treatment Plant Operator Certifications

1. How do I become a certified water treatment plant operator?

Answer: To be certified as a water treatment plant operator, you must pass an approved certification exam in your state and meet other requirements as outlined by the state. You must also have a certain amount of experience or training in operating and maintaining water treatment plants.

2. What is the difference between Class A, B, and C certifications?

Answer: Class A certification is the highest level of certification for water treatment plant operators and requires more experience or training than Classes B and C. Class B certification requires less experience or training than Class A, while Class C certification requires the least amount of experience or training.

3. How long does it take to get certified?

Answer: The length of time it takes to get certified depends on your individual situation. Generally speaking, it can take anywhere from several weeks to several months depending on how quickly you are able to complete all requirements for certification.

4. Is there a fee for getting certified?

Answer: Yes, most states require you to pay a fee when applying for certification. The fee varies from state to state so it is best to check with your local agency for more information about fees associated with becoming a certified water treatment plant operator in your area.

5. Are there any continuing education requirements for maintaining my certification?

Answer: Yes, most states require that you complete continuing education courses periodically in order to maintain your certification status as a water treatment plant operator. Check with your local agency for specific information regarding continuing education requirements in your area.