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Requirements for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification

Education

Minimum education qualifications for wastewater treatment plant operator certification vary according to the Grade desired.Education Options for Grades 1, 2, 1A, and 2A:

Grades 1, 2, 1A, and 2A require a High School Diploma or a High School Equivalency Diploma.Education Options for Grades 3 and 3A:

Grades 3 and 3A can use any one of the following options to meet the minimum education requirement;

  1. an "Approved Associate in Applied Science" (A.A.S.) degree from a duly accredited university or school in one of the following curriculums approved by NYSDEC
    1. Ecology and Environmental Technology from Paul Smith's College
    2. Water Quality Monitoring from Ulster County Community College
    3. Environmental Technology from SUNY-Morrisville
    4. Water/Wastewater Technology from Crowder College
  2. an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from a duly accredited university or school plus eighteen (18) months of operating experience at a wastewater treatment plant (An Associate of Arts (AA) degree with 30 credit hours of math or science is considered equivalent to a A.A.S. Degree.); or
  3. a High School diploma or High School Equivalency Diploma and three (3) years of operating experience at a wastewater treatment plant.Education Options for Grades 4 and 4A:

Grades 4 and 4A can use one of the following options to meet the minimum education requirement:

  1. a Bachelor of Science degree from a duly accredited university or school. This degree is not restricted to an engineering or natural science major;
  2. a Bachelor of Arts degree with thirty (30) credit hours of math and/or science from a duly accredited university or school; or
  3. an "Approved Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.)" degree from a duly accredited university or school in one of the NYSDEC approved curriculums outlined in the Grade 3 options, plus eighteen (18) months of operating experience at a wastewater treatment plant; or
  4. an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) degree from a duly accredited university or school plus three (3) years of operating experience at a wastewater treatment plant (An Associate of Arts (AA) degree with 30 credit hours of math or science is considered equivalent to a A.A.S. Degree.); or
  5. a High School or High School Equivalency Diploma and six (6) years of operating experience at a wastewater treatment plant.

The operating experience discussed under these options is required in addition to the approved operating experience discussed under Section B below. The intent is to recognize knowledge gained through practical experience of mathematics, sciences and other subjects required for operation of a wastewater treatment plant, which would normally be acquired during a college education.

This operating experience can be gained at any wastewater treatment plant with a SPDES Permit regardless of type or facility score. This experience must include a minimum of fifty (50) percent hands-on operation of all unit processes at the WWTP (see page 3 for the definition of "Operating Experience".)

It is the candidates responsibility to provide NYSDEC with satisfactory proof of adequate education.

Approved Operating Experience:

A minimum period of approved operating experience is required in a wastewater treatment plant of the same point score (or higher) for which you are seeking certification. If you are seeking certification as an activated sludge or "A" operator, your approved operating experience must be at an activated sludge treatment plant with the same point score or higher for which the certification is being sought.

Proof of operating experience requires the completion and submittal of Form 92-14-33 (included in this manual) "Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Statement of Experience" with the candidates certification package. The form must be signed by the applicant and the applicants supervisor.

The Statement of Experience form is categorized into three areas; Operations, Laboratory, and Maintenance. Only the "Operations" area is required. A minimum of fifty percent (50) of the required, operating and approved operating experience, must be hands-on operation of all unit processes at the WWTP. This experience must be detailed under the "Operations" area of the form. If the applicant has spent time in the areas of laboratory and/or maintenance, this should be detailed in the appropriate area.

If the applicant has acquired his/her operating experience at more than one WWTP, a Statement of Experience form must be submitted for each facility. The table on the following page shows the experience requirements needed for each Grade. This experience must include a minimum of fifty (50) percent hands-on operation of all unit processes at the WWTP (See page 3 for the definition of "Approved Operating Experience".)

Grade Types of Experience B.S. Degree* Approved A.A.S.** A.A.S.*** High School
4A Operating Experience May be acquired at any WWTP. 1½ Years 3 years 6 Years
Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at an activated sludge WWTP with a point score of 76 or greater . 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years
Total 2 Years 3½ Years 5 Years 8 Years
4 Operating Experience May be acquired at any WWTP. 1½ Years 3 Years 6 Years
Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at a WWTP with a point score of 76 or greater. 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years 2 Years
Total 2 Years 3½ Years 5 Years 8 Years
3A Operating Experience May be acquired at any WWTP. 1½ Years 3 Years
Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at an activated sludge WWTP with a point score of 56 or greater. 1½ Years 1½ Years 1½ Years 1½ Years
Total 1½ Years 1½ Years 3 Years 4½ Years
3 Operating Experience May be acquired at any WWTP. 1½ Years 3 Years
Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at a WWTP with a point score of 56 or greater. 1½ Years 1½ Years 1½ Years 1½ Years
Total 1½ Years 1½ Years 3 Years 4½ Years
2A Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at an activated sludge WWTP with a point score of 31 or greater. 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
2 Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at a WWTP with a point score of 31 or greater. 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year 1 Year
1A Approved Operating Experience Must be acquired at an activated sludge WWTP. 6 Months 6 Months 6 Months 6 Months
1 Approved Operating Experience May be acquired at any WWTP. 6 Months 6 Months 6 Months 6 Months

* B.S. Degree must include 30 credit hours of math and/or science, B.A. Degree with 30 credit hours of math and/or science is considered equivalent to a B.S. Degree.

** See page 8 for "Approved A.A.S. Degrees".

*** A.A. Degree with 30 credit hours of math or science is considered equivalent to an A.A.S. Degree.

Training

Each applicant is required to complete the training requirement(s) for the Grade he or she is applying for. The training requirements for NYS wastewater treatment plant operators are a progressive process. For example, a Grade 4 applicant must complete the training required for the Grade 2, 3 and 4 levels. Grade 2, 3, and 4 candidates are not required to complete the Introductory Course however. These candidates start at the Basic Operations Course and progress to their desired certification training level. All candidates for activated sludge, or "A" certificates, are also required to complete a NYSDEC approved activated sludge course. The following table illustrates the training required for each Certification Grade.

1 1A 2 2A 3 3A 4 4A
Home Study Introductory Course X X
Basic Operations Course X* X* X X X X X X
Activated Sludge Course X X X X
Laboratory Proficiency X X X X X X
Supervision & Technical Operations Course X X X X
Management Course X X

* Optional for this level

Grade 1 candidates have the option of either completing one of the approved home study courses listed below or by completing the Basic Operations Course.

Grade 1 Introductory Course Options (Home Study):

  1. California State University "Operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants" Volumes I & II (Home Study)
    Kenneth Kerri
    Office of Water Programs
    CSU, Sacramento
    6000 J Street Sacramento, California, 95819-2694
    (916) 278-6142
    FAX (916) 278-5959
  2. California State University "Small Wastewater System Operation and Maintenance" Volumes I & II (Home Study)
    Office of Water Programs
    CSU, Sacramento
    6000 J Street Sacramento, California, 95819-2694
    (916) 278-6142
    FAX (916) 278-5959
  3. "Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation" (Class "C" Home Study Course) by University of Florida
    Department of Independent Study by Correspondence
    Division of Continuing Education
    University of Florida
    1938 West University Avenue
    Gainesville, Florida 32603
    1-800-327-4218

Grade 2 Basic Operations Course Options:

  1. Basic Operations Course Approved by NYSDEC. Refer to recent Training Announcement for current offerings, or contact NYSDEC, BWC, Facility Operations Assistance Section, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233-3506 (518) 402-8177.
  2. New England Interstate Environmental Training Center "Wastewater Treatment Technology"
    Kirk Laflin
    NEIETC
    2 Fort Road
    South Portland, Maine 04106
    (207) 767-2593
  3. Crowder College Water/Wastewater Treatment Technology Department
    Neosho, MO 64850
    (800) 848-8726
  4. Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville Environmental Resource Training Center
    Campus Box 1075
    Edwardsville, IL 62026-1075
    (618) 692-2030 FAX (618) 692-2210

Note: Home study courses offered by the above institutions do not satisfy the Grade 2/2A, 3/3A, and 4/4A training requirements.

Grade 3 Supervision & Technical Operations Course Options:

  1. Applicants are required to complete a five day NYSDEC approved Supervion Course and Technical Operations module, or complete an approved home-study course and the one day Technical Operations module. Contact one of the providers below or refer to the current "Training Announcement" for course availability.

Classroom Course Options:

Great Lakes Laboratory at Buffalo State College
Subodh Kumar
(716) 878-5422

SUNY Morrisville Environmental Training Center
Cory Sawyer
(315) 684-6082

New York City Department of Environmental Protection
Mr. Walt Dobkowski or Mr. Garfield Carty
(212) 860-9316

Home-Study Course Options:

* "Manage For Success"
California State University - Sacramento
(916) 278-6142

"Supervisory Management in the Water/Wastewater Field"
Michigan State University
(800) 356-5705

"Basic Supervision and Basic Management"
Indiana State University
(800) 234-1639 Extension 2522

* Please be aware that the current Utility Management course no longer satisfies the Grade 3 Home Study component.

The One Day Technical Operations Module is also required with the Home Study Option.

Grade 4 Management Course:

Refer to recent Training Announcement for current offerings or call NYSDEC, BWC, Facility Operations Assistance Section at (518) 402-8177 for more information.

Activated Sludge Course

All candidates applying for certification for an activated sludge or "A" facility, must also complete a NYSDEC approved "Activated Sludge Operations Course". This course is offered at different locations throughout the state. Refer to a recent Training Announcement or contact the NYSDEC Facility Operations Assistance Section at (518) 402-8177 for more information. Note: The NYSDEC 5 Day Activated Sludge Course completed prior to 1993 meets this requirement.

Laboratory Proficiency

Each applicant seeking certification at the Grade 2 or 2A level or higher must demonstrate his/her ability to conduct the laboratory tests necessary for the control of the operation of a wastewater treatment plant. Candidates must either successfully complete a laboratory exam conducted by NYSDEC, or complete a NYSDEC approved laboratory course. Westchester Community College Environmental Control Degree and Ulster County Community College Water Quality Monitoring A.A.S. Degree are approved substitutes, and meet the laboratory proficiency requirement. Applicants with professional lab experience (chemist or lab technician) may be exempt from this requirement. To be considered for the exemption, you must document your lab duties and experience and submit it to NYSDEC, Facility Operations Assistance Section, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-3506.

Laboratory course information and information on up-coming lab exams can be attained by contacting NYSDEC, Facility Operations Assistance Section at (518) 402-8177.

Recommendation:

Before you can be scheduled to take the certification exam, your NYSDEC Regional Office or County Health Department (if they have review authority) must review and recommend approval of your application.

Examination:

Applicants are required to successfully complete an Association of boards of Certification Exam (reciprocity candidates may not require an exam). Exams are scheduled by the applicant after notification by NYSDEC of approval of their qualifications.

All wastewater applications must be submitted to the New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA), 525 Plum Street, Suite 102, Syracuse, NY 13204. This includes new applications, certification upgrades, and reciprocity candidates.

  • Contact for this Page
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    Facility Operations Assistance Section
    625 Broadway, 4th Floor
    Albany, NY 12233-3506
    518-402-8177
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