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Wastewater Operator Certification

NYSDEC Certification is Required to Operate a Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plant

New York requires the operation of municipal wastewater treatment plants to be supervised by a certified operator, 6NYCRR Part 650.

Sequential Batch Reactor Decanter
As of September 1, 2011 New York Water Environment
Association (NYWEA) administers operator certification
and certificate renewal. DEC is responsible for the
regulatory aspects of the program and approval of
renewal training courses.

There are four levels of activated sludge certification (Grades 1A - 4A) and four levels of non-activated sludge certification (Grades 1 - 4). The amount of training and experience required increases with the size and complexity of the wastewater treatment process.

Operator's Certificate is Valid for Five Years

Operator certificates are renewed by completing NYSDEC approved renewal training contact hours. The number of hours required to renew depends on the operator certification grade.

A contact hour equals 60 minutes of training related to the operation, maintenance, or management of a wastewater treatment plant or collection system.

Frequently Encountered Operational Issues

Many common operational problems are encountered by operators. Find answers to many of these operational issues or answers to questions about drinking water certification, wastewater treatment plant operator certification, certification renewal, and training course approval.

Looking for a Certified Operator?

Want to Become a Certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator?

The Basics of Wastewater Treatment Plant Certification

  • A brief introduction to the why's and how's of Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification
  • An overview of the steps a candidate should follow to become a certified Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator
  • Complete information about operator certification is contained within the DEC and NYWEA Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Manual; the offsite link is in the right hand column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.
  • Definitions of terms used in materials for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification

Determining the Plant Score of Your Wastewater Facility

Complete Your Work Experience and Pre-certification Training

Understand the Educational, Training and Work Experience Requirements

Find Pre-Certification Training

  • Contact information for organizations that offer required pre-certification training courses for Wastewater Operator certification is maintained by NYWEA. http://nywea.org/OpCert/
  • Complete information on becoming a certified operator can be found in the DEC and NYWEA Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification Manual; the offsite link is in the right hand column in the "Links Leaving DEC Website" section.
  • The Basic Operations Curricula (PDF) (306 KB) and Energy Efficiency presentation (PDF) slides (1.2 MB) provide training material for day to day operations and management of a wastewater treatment plant.
  • Guidelines for developing the Basic Laboratory Course for wastewater operator certification
  • The course curricula for an activated sludge course for Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator certification

Apply for Certification

  • For certification applications, please visit NYWEA website for more information about wastewater treatment plant operator applications http://nywea.org/OpCert/
  • The Out-of-State Applicant Assistance Document provides information about transferring certifications from another state to New York State.
  • When your application materials are approved, NYWEA will send instructions on how to register and schedule the exam.

Get Ready for the Exam

Information about Certification Exams

Wastewater Treatment Plant Clarifier
All Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators must
meet the same qualifications

Regulations and Guidance Documents

The 6NYCRR Part 650, Qualifications of Operators of Wastewater Treatment Plants document, provides information on:

  • Regulatory authority and policy for operator certification
  • Wastewater Treatment Plant oversight
  • Certification requirements
  • Treatment Plant scoring

The TOGS 5.1.6, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator Certification (PDF) (120 KB) document covers the following topics:

  • Certificate renewal
  • Certificate expiration
  • Certificate suspension and revocation information

For more information about NYWEA and Operator Certification

New York Water Environment Association (NYWEA) administers operator certification and certificate renewal. Please visit the NYWEA website for information on application, forms, fees, and contacts. http://nywea.org/OpCert/ Also visit the links listed in the Operator Certification Resources on the right hand column under "Links Leaving DEC's Website".