Starting and Succeeding in the Water or Wastewater Industry Published October 28, 2016 by Ali Sexton

Wastewater workers

Working in a field with volatile highs and lows can be scary, but the water and wastewater field is fortunately not one of these risky workplaces. Clean water will always be crucial for every community. This industry has many benefits, like favorable pay, job security, and high demand for workers.  In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 6 percent growth for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators from 2014 to 2024.

Going to work every day when you’re lacking passion can prove to be exhausting, uninspiring, and plain boring. Having a job you care about makes all the difference. If you’re passionate about the environment and want to positively make a difference in your community, consider a job in wastewater. 

“Once someone gets in the field, they stay for the long run because it’s a great, fulfilling career,” says Connie Myrick, coordinator of workforce operations at Rose State College.

Need another reason to consider a position in the environmental protection industry? Job security and a solid paycheck are always reassuring. The median annual wage for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators was $44,790 in May 2015, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

This job requires proficiency in a multitude of skills. To work in the industry, you must be highly knowledgeable in chemistry, but also adept in computer use and customer service.

Getting Started in the Field

Rose State is delighted to have received the Environmental Protection Agency grant for a second time. This grant allows free job training for selected individuals. It’s completely free to the public and anyone interested in the wastewater industry can apply, whether a Rose State student, or not.

Orientation will be hosted on September 16, where applicants can learn more about the program, hear more details, and submit their information on-site.   If selected, candidates will complete a four-week training and receive certifications. Along with the certifications offered, candidates will be trained in a range of environmental topics, including hazardous waste and emergency response, water and liquid waste treatment system operations, wastewater treatment plant lab operations, and respiratory protection.

Earn your Department of Labor Journeyman-Level Certification

Are you already in the wastewater industry and looking to take your career to the next level? The water and wastewater apprenticeship includes online, in-person classroom training, and paid on-the-job training. The successful completion of this apprenticeship will provide you a lifetime certification in the field.

 “Taking initiative and stepping up to join the apprenticeship program shows your current and future employers that you are a well-qualified operator and have done extensive training,” says Bill Clark, director of environmental training at Rose State.

Completing the program shows employers your commitment to the industry and your dedication to quality, clean water, Clark says.

Steps to Complete the Apprenticeship:

  1. Before gaining this certification, you must be employed in the industry.
  2. Ask your boss to be your journeyman who can record and assert that your job training and education requirements have been met.
  3. Complete the necessary on-site job training, online education, and classroom training.
  4. Have your journeyman send information into Connie Myrick at Rose State.
  5. Connie Myrick will verify that you successfully completed the requirements and submit your information to the Department of Labor.

“Being an apprentice will allow professionals to get advancement within water or wastewater fields quickly,” says Myrick.

If you’re thinking about joining the apprenticeship program or learning more about the EPA grant program, contact Bill Clark at or (405) 733-7488.