Water Treatment Plant Operator

Control the pumps and filtration systems cities use to keep water clean.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$25,000 – $64,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Water Treatment Plant Operators do?

Water treatment involves one of two processes: cleaning up water to make it drinkable, and removing harmful pollutants from wastewater to make it clean enough to return to the environment. A water treatment plant is key to both paths.

Water from wells, lakes, streams, or rivers are pumped to water treatment plants, cleaned up and tested, and then sent on to consumer households, recreational-use areas, and businesses. Then again, water passes back through plants to take out pollutants before it is released back into the ecosystem. A Water Treatment Plant Operator runs the machines that strip the water of chemicals or bacteria so that it is safe to drink.

As a Water Treatment Plant Operator for a smaller facility, you might be in charge of the entire operation, but in larger plants, you might only be responsible for one system. In today’s high-tech world, most of the machines are directed by computer software. The computerized pumps and motors force the water through a series of filters and other systems that remove impurities. Then, the water moves through more automated machines that add chemicals, such as fluoride. Along the way, you carefully monitor the meters and gauges. You take samples of the water, evaluate them in the lab, and make adjustments as needed.

The work environment for a Water Treatment Plant Operator can be a dangerous one. Loud machines, chemicals, gas emissions, and slippery floors require your focused attention. You also need to be available, as most positions require you to be on-call in case of emergency, machine failure or chemical spill. Fortunately, you are well-trained in the proper procedures for such an event.

Should I be a Water Treatment Plant Operator?

You should have a certificate degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Reliable: You can always be counted on to do a good job.
  • Flexible: You're open to change and think variety is the spice of life.

  • Also known as: Drinking Water Technician, Potable Water Treatment Operator, Sewage Treatment Plant Operator, Water Filterer See More

    How to Become a
    Water Treatment Plant Operator

    Water Treatment Plant Operators often have a Certificate or higher. Chart?chd=s:9fhraa&chl=no+college+%2853%25%29|certificate+%2827%25%29|associate%27s+%286%25%29|bachelor%27s+%2815%25%29||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,53,53
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