The outlook for Water Treatment Plant Operators is excellent with a projected growth of twelve percent until 2020. In 2010 there were 110,700 positions that are expected to grow to 123,600 by 2020. The position is expected to grow due to population growth, particularly in suburban areas, and new safety regulations which demand new additions to existing plants. A growth in the positions is assured as population increases in cities and suburban areas… The field of water treatment and distribution is vital, and yet is still somewhat of a niche industry. A vast majority of people simply assume that water comes from the faucet in their house and completely take for granted the efforts that are required to provide potable water. However, people who understand the efforts that are required also understand the fact that a career in the water treatment or distribution field is extremely stable and resistant to economic swings. Another desirable quality of employment as a Water Treatment Plant Operator is the ready availability of the position in all areas of the country. Every city and suburban area has a water treatment plant usually run by local government or a private utility company.
As regulations become more complex due to new safety regulations, new additions to existing plants are built. New jobs are also created as current employees retire and leave positions open. Typically, there are few applicants for the positions because most people are unaware of the field and what is required to become a certified operator. The average salary is $40, 770 annually or $19.60 an hour. Depending on the location and size of the facility the annual salary can be as a high as $120,000. The only requirements are a high school diploma and good mechanical abilities, basic math, and the ability to learn existing and new regulations.
Water Treatment Plant Operators are generally trained on the job. An associates degree or a one year certificate can help increase salary and employment opportunities. As new skills are learned and the operator leans more aspects of the job, positions in management may become available, increasing salary potential. Employees generally work full time, forty hours a week in eight hour shifts and need to be available for eight hour weekend and night shifts. They often need to be on-call for emergencies but usually receive monetary compensation. They may have to be available to work on holidays and overtime but are well compensated for such.
Jobs are usually local government or private utility positions and can have excellent benefits (health insurance, retirement, vacation pay) as a result. Water Treatment Plant Operators monitor the quality of the water sourced from rivers, lakes, reservoirs and aquifers to make sure it is safe to drink. Frequent job duties include inspecting equipment to ensure it is in proper working order; performing minor repairs, adding chemicals such as chlorine to water, adjusting gauges and meters, checking filters and sludge, testing water quality, and monitoring control boards. Many tasks in water plants are computerized but require maintenance and monitoring. The job can be dangerous and the injury rate is higher than other comparable positions due to slippery walkways, gases, or malfunctioning equipment. It is important for operators to be aware of and follow safety regulations, use proper safety equipment, and use all necessary precautions. A position as a Treatment Plant Operator is a good one due to availability, job growth, number of job applicants, and demand. Interested job applicants should check local city and job boards for open positions.