Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment Mgmt.

A water quality and wastewater treatment manager oversees a community or private water treatment plant. Explore education and training for these managers, as well as certification requirements, employment outlook and salaries in this field.

Are Studies in Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment for Me?

Career Overview

Water quality and wastewater treatment managers run the machinery that guides water and wastewater through filtration processes, resulting in safe drinking water. They also inspect, test and maintain this equipment. Water treatment managers are often responsible for preparing reports detailing a plant's operations, performed maintenance and water safety levels to ensure their facilities and treatment systems meet federal and state requirements.

Employment Options

Water quality and wastewater treatment managers commonly work in the areas of water operations, engineering technology, environmental monitoring and facility management. Most positions in the field are found within local governments. Depending on your training, you may work as a certified water system operator or a water resources engineer, working to improve drinking water or municipal and industrial wastewater treatment processes. You could also work with water utility companies or urban planning firms to improve stormwater controls in urban environments. Other options include working as a consultant or environmental manager to ensure that local industries and businesses comply with federal water quality and wastewater regulations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Salary and Job Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates jobs for water and liquid waste treatment plant and system operators to grow by 8% between 2012 and 2022, a rate right at the national average (www.bls.gov). Job growth is expected largely due to increased suburban development requiring greater water and wastewater treatment needs. As of May 2012, water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators earned a median annual salary of $42,760, per the BLS.

How Can I Become a Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment Manager?

Education Requirements

If you're interested in pursuing a career as a water quality and wastewater treatment manager, the minimum education required is a high school diploma, with training largely conducted on the job. However, many employers prefer candidates with certificates or associate's degrees in the field. Certificate programs are varied and can often be completed in one year or less, either on-campus or online. You could earn a certificate in clean water technology, water treatment, water compliance or utility management, for example. Associate's degrees are generally offered under various titles as well, such as water quality and wastewater technology, water resources technologies, civil engineering technology and water quality management.

Degree Programs

If you're seeking more advanced training, you might pursue a bachelor's or graduate degree in civil, water resources or environmental engineering with a concentration in water quality and wastewater treatment management. Online wastewater management degrees are also available, as well as online environmental engineering degrees with concentrations in wastewater and stormwater engineering. In a water quality and wastewater treatment program, you'll likely take courses in hydraulics, water distribution and collection systems, industrial wastewater treatment, water quality modeling, water reuse systems and water chemistry.

Licensing and Certification

Each state mandates certification or licensure for water quality and wastewater treatment operators. Although requirements vary widely, most states maintain four types of certification for water and waste treatment plant operators with different experience levels. Additionally, the Association of Boards of Certification offers voluntary national certification for water and wastewater treatment operators who meet education, experience and examination requirements (www.abccert.org).

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