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Summary Report for:
51-8031.00 - Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.

Sample of reported job titles: Operator, Water Treatment Plant Operator, Wastewater Operator, Waste Water Operator, Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator (WWTP Operator), Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, Water Operator, Water Plant Operator, Process Operator, SCADA Operator (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Operator)

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

  • Add chemicals such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
  • Inspect equipment or monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.
  • Collect and test water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.
  • Record operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
  • Operate and adjust controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
  • Maintain, repair, and lubricate equipment, using hand tools and power tools.
  • Clean and maintain tanks, filter beds, and other work areas using hand tools and power tools.
  • Direct and coordinate plant workers engaged in routine operations and maintenance activities.

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

Chlorine handling equipment — Dechlorination equipment; Disinfection chlorinators; Sulphonators
Mixers or agitators — Aerators; Agitators; Flocculators
Nitrogen or nitrate or nitrite analyzer — Ammonium analyzers; Nitrate analyzers
Packaged water treatment systems — Anaerobic treatment equipment; Sequential batch reactors
Ultrafiltration equipment — Backwash filters; Microstrainers; Trickling filter beds; Vacuum filters

Technology used in this occupation:

Compliance software — Material safety data sheet MSDS software
Data base user interface and query software — Data logging software; Database software
Document management software — Records management software
Industrial control software — Human machine interface HMI software; Supervisory control and data acquisition SCADA software; Wastewater expert control systems
Office suite software — Microsoft Office software

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Knowledge

Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Chemistry — Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Biology — Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.
Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
Education and Training — Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

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Skills

Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Repairing — Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.

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Abilities

Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

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Work Activities

Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.

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Work Context

Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 99% responded “Every day.”
Exposed to Contaminants — 86% responded “Every day.”
Contact With Others — 81% responded “Constant contact with others.”
Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 77% responded “Every day.”
Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 84% responded “Every day.”
Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 79% responded “Every day.”
Face-to-Face Discussions — 85% responded “Every day.”
Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 71% responded “Every day.”
Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 69% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Telephone — 46% responded “Every day.”

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Three: Medium Preparation Needed
Education Most occupations in this zone require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.
Related Experience Previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for these occupations. For example, an electrician must have completed three or four years of apprenticeship or several years of vocational training, and often must have passed a licensing exam, in order to perform the job.
Job Training Employees in these occupations usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples These occupations usually involve using communication and organizational skills to coordinate, supervise, manage, or train others to accomplish goals. Examples include food service managers, electricians, agricultural technicians, legal secretaries, occupational therapy assistants, and medical assistants.
SVP Range (6.0 to < 7.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
50   High school diploma or equivalent Help
17   Post-secondary certificate Help
15   Bachelor's degree

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Credentials

Find Training Find Certifications Find Licenses Find Apprenticeships

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Interests

Interest code: RC

Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

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Work Styles

Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.

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Work Values

Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Achievement — Occupations that satisfy this work value are results oriented and allow employees to use their strongest abilities, giving them a feeling of accomplishment. Corresponding needs are Ability Utilization and Achievement.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2013) $20.77 hourly, $43,200 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 111,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Average (8% to 14%) Average (8% to 14%)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 47,500
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2013 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

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