If you would enjoy a career where you get to perform hands-on work that benefits both the environment and the people who live nearby, then you may want to consider obtaining a degree in Process Technology so that you may be able to enter into a career as a Water Treatment Systems Operator.(1)
Water Treatment Systems Operators are trained in using mechanical and electrical operations to work on machines that purify and circulate one of our most valuable resources - water.
Water Treatment Systems Operators play an important role in supplying safe drinking water to residential, commercial, and agricultural sites. They are most often employed by local governments to work in either city or county water treatment facilities. At the water treatment facility, they may manage a large and varied system of machines, most often using control boards, to transfer and treat water that is collected and/or wastewater.(1)
Water Treatment Operators are trained to collect water samples and test them to be sure that they meet the regulations for safe use. If the water does not meet regulations, then they typically use a mixture of trace amounts of chemicals like ammonia or chlorine to purify it. For this, he or she should have a basic understanding of math and science so that they can measure and also watch for any negative reactions. Once they have measured and applied the necessary treatments to the water and it has been deemed safe for use, it can then be filtered into our homes and businesses to be drank or used.(2)
It is a lot of work to manage and handle the water supply, so depending on the size of the facility, operators will have different tasks assigned to them. Larger facilities will have multiple operators working on the same shift and their duties will be more specific. For instance, a handful of operators will spend their time divided between monitoring the systems, or measuring and applying purification treatments, and the rest will spend their shift maintaining the equipment around the facility.
A high school diploma or equivalent is generally a requirement to become a Water Treatment Systems Operator.(1) With competition for jobs expected to remain high, employers may prefer to candidates who have completed a certificate or an Associate degree program in a field related to process technology, environmental science, or wastewater treatment technology.(1,2)
During a degree program, you may even be able to get hands-on experience working with simulated water treatment machines or even tour a local water treatment facility to see how things actually work.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual wage for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators in May 2015 was $44,790. With the highest ten percent of water treatment operators reportedly earning $70,940 annually!
Employment for water treatment operators is projected to grow at about 6% faster than all other occupations.(1)
(1) Keep in mind employment and income cannot be guaranteed by any educational institution for students or graduates. Additionally, salary data cited in this article is based on median data provided by the United States Department of Labor, does not reflect starting or entry level salaries, and can vary widely based on geographic location, education, experience, and other factors.