CAREER GUIDE FOR WATER & LIQUID WASTE TREATMENT PLANT AND SYSTEM OPERATOR

SOC Code: 51- 8031

Pay Band(s): 3 ( Salary Structure )

Standard Occupational Description: Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or liquid waste.

Water & Liquid Waste Treatment and System Operator positions in the Commonwealth are assigned to the following Roles in the Utility Plant Operations Career Group:

Utility Plant Specialist II

While Water & Liquid Waste Treatment and System Operators within the Commonwealth are all located within the Utility Plant Operations Career Group, individuals may want to pursue other opportunities within the Commonwealth depending upon individual training, education, knowledge, skills, abilities, and interests.

Other Career Group(s) that may be of interest are:

Engineering Technology

Life and Physical Science

Environmental Services

Computer Operations

SKILLS, KNOWLEDGE, ABILITIES AND TASKS

(Technical and Functional Expertise)

Skills
Note : The technical and functional skills listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and Systems Operators commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the skills listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

  1. Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  2. Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  3. Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  4. Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  5. Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  6. Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  7. Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
  8. Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
  9. Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  10. Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Knowledge
Note : The technical and functional knowledge statements listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the knowledge listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Knowledge of:

  1. Plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
  2. Chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
  3. Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  4. Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  5. Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  6. Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Abilities
Note : The technical and functional abilities listed below are based on general occupational qualifications for Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators commonly recognized by most employers. Typically, you will not be required to have all of the abilities listed to be a successful performer. Recruitment and selection standards for an individual state job must be based on the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities for that job as indicated in the job announcement and job description in the Employee Work Profile.

The Ability to:

  1. See details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  2. Tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  3. Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  4. Quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  5. Listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  6. Coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
  7. Keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  8. Arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  9. Communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  10. Combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).

Tasks
Note : The following is a list of sample tasks typically performed by Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators. Employees in this occupation will not necessarily perform all of the tasks listed.

Tasks

  1. Add chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, and lime, to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
  2. Operate and adjust controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
  3. Inspect equipment and monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.
  4. Collect and test water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.
  5. Record operational data, personnel attendance, and meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
  6. Maintain, repair, and lubricate equipment, using hand tools and power tools.
  7. Clean and maintain tanks and filter beds, using hand tools and power tools.
  8. Direct and coordinate plant workers engaged in routine operations and maintenance activities.

INTERESTED?

Like people, occupations have traits or characteristics. These characteristics give important clues about the nature of the work and work environment, and give you an opportunity to match your own personal interests to a specific occupation. When you choose a job in an occupation that matches your own interests you have taken an important step in planning a successful and rewarding career.

The occupation of Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators has Realistic characteristics as described below:

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

LICENSURE, REGISTRATION, OR CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS

Generally licensure is required for Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operator positions in Virginia.

The Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation's Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators license Water and Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators. For more information on licensure requirements, board and the regulations, visit the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation web site: http://www.dpor.virginia.gov

The Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators regulates individuals who operate water and wastewater treatment facilities. This board issues a Class VI, V, IV, III, II, or I license only after an individual has met all experience and examination requirements as set forth in these regulations. Each license shall be in the appropriate category and classification and shall indicate the highest classification of works the holder is qualified to operate.

The Board for Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators develops training criteria, approves training providers and licenses qualified individuals who operate water and liquid waste facilities in the Commonwealth. To contact the board the email address is: waterwasteoper@dpor.virginia.gov .

The Association of Boards of Certification offers certification as:

Wastewater Collection System Operator
Wastewater Treatment Operator
Water Distribution System Operator
Water Treatment Operator

For information on certification, contact:

Association of Boards of Certification: http://www.abccert.org

EDUCATIONAL, TRAINING, AND LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES

The Department of Labor provides the following information:

Clean water is essential for everyday life. Water treatment plant and system operators treat water so that it is safe to drink. Liquid waste treatment plant and system operators, also known as wastewater treatment plant and system operators, remove harmful pollutants from domestic and industrial liquid waste so that it is safe to return to the environment.

A high school diploma usually is required for an individual to become a water or liquid waste treatment plant operator. Operators need mechanical aptitude and should be competent in basic mathematics, chemistry, and biology.

The completion of an associate degree or a 1-year certificate program in water quality and liquid waste treatment technology increases an applicant's chances for employment and promotion because plants are becoming more complex.

The Commonwealth has an approved apprenticeship program for those individuals interested in an occupation as Waterworks and Wastewater Works Operators. The Virginia Department of Labor provides more information about apprenticeships on their web site: http://www.dli.state.va.us/

As operators are promoted, they become responsible for more complex treatment processes. Some operators are promoted to plant supervisor or superintendent; others advance by transferring to a larger facility. Postsecondary training in water and liquid waste treatment, coupled with increasingly responsible experience as an operator, may be sufficient to qualify a worker for becoming superintendent of a small plant, where a superintendent also serves as an operator. However, educational requirements are rising as larger, more complex treatment plants are built to meet new drinking water and water pollution control standards. With each promotion, the operator must have greater knowledge of Federal, State, and local regulations. Superintendents of large plants generally need an engineering or a science degree.

COMMONWEALTH COMPETENCIES

Competencies are a set of identified behaviors, knowledge, skills, and abilities that directly and positively impact the success of employees and the organization. Competencies can be observed and measured. When consistently demonstrated, competencies make employees particularly effective in their work.  Competencies help lay out a road map to career success. You can use the Commonwealth Competencies to help improve your individual performance by adopting behaviors that make high performing employees successful in their jobs. In this way, you can use the Commonwealth Competencies for your further professional development.

The Commonwealth Competencies are:

  1. Technical and Functional Expertise
  2. Understanding the Business
  3. Achieving Results
  4. Serving the Customer
  5. Teamwork
  6. Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  7. Leadership and Personal Effectiveness

The above competencies may be applied to employees throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.  They can be rank-ordered by agencies and hiring managers to represent the needs of a specific job. The rank ordering will change depending upon the occupation, an organization's priorities, the actual job requirements, and the supervisor's preferences. 

Career success is both about what you do (applying your technical knowledge, skills, and ability) and how you do it (the consistent behaviors you demonstrate and choose to use) while interacting and communicating with others. Hopefully, by studying the Commonwealth competencies, identifying your developmental opportunities, and working to refine your own competence, you can take charge of your career!

For additional information about the Commonwealth Competencies go to: http://jobs.state.va.us/cc_planningctr.htm . For the competencies, we first list the competencies and then define each. Finally, we list competency indicators; to describe what successful performance looks like.

COMMONWEALTH CAREER PATH

Career opportunities in the Commonwealth are not limited to moving “up” to the next highest role and pay band, changing positions, or to becoming a supervisor. That's because most roles describe a broad group of occupationally related positions that perform a range of work that requires increased knowledge and skills. For that reason, Commonwealth roles describe the career paths within the same or higher-level role for the same or different Career Group. The broad salary range and the Commonwealth's pay practices provide flexibility in recognizing career development and advancement. ( Salary Structure )

For example: Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators

PAY BAND

PRACTITIONER ROLES

PAY BAND

MANAGER ROLES

 

I

4

Utility Plant Manager I

3

Utility Plant Specialist II

5

Utility Plant Manager II

Sample Career Path

Utility Plant Specialist II
The Utility Plant Specialist II role provides career tracks for Water & Liquid Waste Treatment Plant and System Operators performing entry level to first line supervisory responsibilities in the operations/repair of plant equipment including water and wastewater treatment systems.

Utility Plant Manager I
The Utility Plant Manager I role provides career tracks for managers responsible for maintaining efficient utility plant equipment operation and supervision by establishing operational procedures; managing the daily operations, maintenance and repair of plant equipment; conducting periodic inspections, analyses, and reviews and maintaining related documents; and ensuring equipment life and safety and operational efficiencies.

Utility Plant Manager II
The Utility Plant Manager II role provides career tracks for managers responsible for the overall management of complex utility plants that are multiple and freestanding, provide utility services to multiple agencies, or generate electricity for an in-house utility company. Employees require expert knowledge of and experience with high-pressure boiler and/or turbine operations and auxiliary equipment.

ADDITIONAL OCCUPATIONAL INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT:

O*NET (Occupational Information Network)
http://online.onetcenter.org/gen_search_page

Virginia Employment Commission
http://www.alex.vec.state.va.us/

Career One Stop
http://www.careeronestop.org/

Virginia Career Resource Network
http://www.vacrn.net/

American Water Works Association
http://www.awwa.org

Water Environment Federation
http://www.wef.org