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Frequently Asked Questions About Operator Certification

I am interested in becoming a certified Drinking Water Operator.

Q: What are the requirements for Drinking Water Operator Certification in New York State?

A: The New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) regulates drinking water operator certification. The offsite link can be found on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

I am an existing WWTP Operator interested in renewal.

Q: How long is my certification period?

A: From the date of your initial certification (or prior renewal), a WWTP Operator is certified for a period of five years. Your certificate expiration date is on your operator certification blue card.

Q: I've received a letter that my certification has expired. What does that mean to me?

A: After the date of your expiration, you are not a certified operator.

To maintain your certification for job/Civil Service requirements, you must complete the required renewal contact hours for your grade certification.

You have one (1) year to complete the required training after your expiration date.

If you do not renew by this date, you will have to complete the required training and retake the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) exam.

For expired applicants, we will only accept training completed within five (5) years of the date we receive the renewal application.

Q: I don't have enough contact hours for renewal; how can I quickly satisfy my renewal requirements before my certificate expires?

A: If you cannot find a local provider of NYSDEC approved renewal training, NYSDEC provides a list of pre- approved Renewal Training & Approved Distance Learning training courses on its website.

Q: Where I work, it's tough to get approval for training. Additionally, there is not much offered in the way of training. How do I satisfy my renewal requirements?

A: Same recommendation as above and many professional associations conduct local/regional training programs. For examples of the types of renewal training and a listing of pre-approved training and crediting of hours go to the Renewal Training & Approved Distance Learning webpage.

Q: How do I renew my WWTP Operator certificate?

A: Submit a complete "Application For Renewal Of Certificate: Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator" to the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA).

Specific instructions, forms, and renewal fees are located on NYWEA's website. The offsite link is on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

Q: What constitutes a complete certificate renewal application?

A: The New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) administers the review and approval of operator certificate renewal applications.

Forms, instructions, and fee information are available on NYWEA's website. The offsite link is on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

A complete certificate renewal application package contains the following:

1. The completed and signed original "Application For Renewal Of Certificate: Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator". The form is available on NYWEA's website.

2. Copies of all training course completion certificates. Each certificate must clearly display the NYSDEC training course number and contact hours.

3. Certificate renewal application fee. Fee information is available on NYWEA's website.

Send the complete package to NYWEA, 525 Plum Street, Suite 102, Syracuse, NY 13204

(Always remember to make a copy of your entire application for your records in the event it gets lost!)

I am interested in becoming a certified WWTP Operator.

Q: What are the requirements for WWTP Operator Certification in New York State?

In general, certification approval is based on the following:

  • Minimum education requirements.
  • Required training courses.
  • Approved operating experience.
  • Pass the ABC Certification exam.

Q: How do I know what grade level of certification I might be eligible for?

A: The grade level you are eligible for is determined by the plant score of the facility where you obtained your hands-on operating experience plus training and education.

Wastewater treatment plants are scored based on type and complexity of the treatment using a point system outlined in the 6NYCRR Part 650.3. NYSDEC uses the facility plant score to assign a grade to each wastewater treatment plant. The facility Plant Score is on file with Bureau of Water Compliance.

You cannot obtain a certification grade higher than the grade of the wastewater treatment facility where you obtained your operations experience.

Q: What is included in a complete application package?

A: The New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) administers the review and approval of operator certificate applications. Forms, instructions, and fee information is available from NYWEA's website. The offsite link is on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

A complete application package contains the following:

  • A copy of your High School or College Diploma, or a High School Equivalency.
  • Completed "Application for Approval of Qualifications for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator" form. This form is available on NYWEA's website.
  • Completed "Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Statement of Experience" forms for each WWTP where you acquired operations experience. This form is available on NYWEA's website.
  • A Notice of Training Course Completion for each required training course for the certification grade you seek.
  • A Notice of Training Course Completion for a NYSDEC approved Basic Laboratory Course, or proof that you satisfactorily completed a NYSDEC laboratory exam (except Grade 1& 1A candidates).
  • Certification application fee. Fee information is available on NYWEA's website.

Send the complete package to NYWEA 525 Plum Street, Suite 102, Syracuse, NY 13204.

(Always remember to make a copy of your entire application for your records in the event it gets lost!)

You will be notified by NYWEA when they approve your application. NYWEA will send instructions on how to register for the Association of Boards of Certification Exam and make payment.

Application packages that are incomplete may be returned and/or rejected.

Q: What is the "ABC" exam referenced above?

A: "ABC" stands for the Association of Boards of Certification. The "ABC" exam is a WWTP certification exam given throughout the country.

The exam is a computer based 3 hour exam that consists of 100 multiple choice questions. A passing score is a grade of seventy (70) or higher.

ABC offers the exam through a testing service, Applied Measurement Professionals (AMP) located throughout New York State and the country.

After your application is approved, NYWEA will provide you with instructions on how to register for the exam.

More information about the ABC Exam is available from the ABC website. The offsite link is on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

Q: I have questions that were not specifically addressed, or I need further clarification on a particular issue. How can I contact someone from for additional assistance?

A: For questions about operator certification or certificate renewal applications, please contact NYWEA at 315-422-7811 or visit their website. The offsite link is on the right navigation column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.

For questions about training course approval, plant scores, or the certification regulations, please contact the NYSDEC Bureau of Water Compliance at 518-402-8177.