Why do I need to be certified?

Due to the importance of preserving our environment and the fragile nature of the receiving waters, by law, it is required that any person operating a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) be certified by the State Water Resources Control Board’s (SWRCB) Office of Operator Certification (OOC).

The regulations and laws regarding operator licensing can be found here. There are five grade levels for licensing.

How do I become a California licensed certified wastewater treatment plant operator?

There are essentially three qualifications you will need: Education, Experience and Examination. These requirements are outline at the OOC’s website here.

What kind of education will I need?

The education requirements  qualify you to take the certification examination, typically education directly relating to the Water and Wastewater treatment industry is desirable, yet some science and math can be acceptable, refer to OOC for questions relating acceptable education.  Each grade level requires a different amount of education.

Where can I get the education?

Local colleges may offer wastewater treatment classes that can satisfy education requirements such as: Solano Community College, Sacramento City College and Santa Rosa Junior College. Classes can also be found through the Tri-Valley Regional Occupation Program.

Correspondence programs are also available that can be done from home through the California State University, Sacramento – Office of Water Programs and can be found here.

There are many non profit organizations and private companies that offer short specialized training.

What experience is required?

Before obtaining a license an applicant must gain enough experience working at a wastewater treatment plant as an operator. In order to work as an operator before you are license you must obtain a Operator In Training (OIT) certificate. With a OIT certificate you can work as an operator and gain the required number of hours for experience. Each grade level requires a different amount of experience.

For a grade 1 certification a minimum of 1800 hours of experience must be obtained. After that, additional hours are required for each grade level. There are some options for substituting education or engineering work for the experience requirements, but only after the 1800 hours has been obtained. Refer to the OOC for questions relating acceptable experience.

How do I get an OIT certificate?

In order to obtain a OIT you must be employed at a wastewater treatment plant or volunteer at one. The Chief Plant Operator at the plant will need to sign your OIT application before approval. Once the OOC grants you a OIT certificate, you may start working as a operator to gain your experience. The OIT certificate is only valid at the plant it is assigned to.

How do I volunteer?

Many plants offer a volunteer, internship or Regional Occupation Program (ROP). Many community colleges work with treatment plants to provide such a program. To find a volunteer position research and contact each plant to apply.

What is the examination requirement?

Once the education requirements have been met, a successful passing of a SWRCB wastewater operator exam is required. Examinations are only schedule twice a year, and require prior approval. Be sure to apply for an exam before all deadlines. Applications are obtained and filed with the OOC.

There are six different grade levels for operator certifications:

  • Operator In Training (OIT) – this license is for operators who are trying to earn operational experience towards becoming certified while working in a treatment plant. This certification does not require a examination, but can only be obtained if hired or volunteering at a plant.
  • Grade I – Grade V license – These licenses are achieved by passing the SWRCB operator exam for their specified grade level and have adequate operational experience and have met the education requirements.

How can your class help me pass the examination for my certification?

Our classes are specifically designed to help students prepare for their certification exams at each grade level. Depending on the grade level, each exam covers a wide variety of topics, testing formats, math, and essay answers. Our class will help you be prepared and succeed. For more information on our classes see the Home Page “what can I expect to gain”.