Skip navigation

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, Process Operator, SCADA Operator (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Operator), Waste Water Operator, Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator (WWTP Operator), Wastewater Operator, Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, Water Operator, Water Plant Operator, Water Treatment Plant Operator

View report: Summary  Details  Custom

Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed 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.

Find occupations related to multiple tasks

back to top

Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Air samplers or collectors — Air monitoring equipment; Emissions monitoring systems
  • Ammonia removal equipment — Denitrification equipment
  • Atomic absorption AA spectrometers — Atomic absorption AA spectrophotometers
  • Autosamplers
  • Bacterial removal equipment — Air strippers; Fixed-film reactors
  • Blowers
  • Carbon filtration equipment — Absorption equipment
  • Centrifugal pumps
  • Chemical pumps — Chemical feed pumps; Chemical feeding equipment
  • Chlorine handling equipment — Dechlorination equipment; Disinfection chlorinators; Sulphonators
  • Colorimeters
  • Conductivity meters
  • Conveyor screw — Conveyor control equipment
  • Desktop computers
  • Digital camcorders or video cameras — Pipe inspection video equipment
  • Dissolved oxygen meters — Biochemical oxygen demand analyzers
  • Drain or pipe cleaning equipment — Pipe cleaning equipment
  • Flow sensors — Ultrasonic flowmeters
  • Furnaces
  • Grit chambers — Grit separators
  • Heat exchangers
  • Hydraulic pumps
  • Hydrocarbons analyzers or detectors — Hydrocarbon analyzers; Total petroleum hydrocarbon TPH analyzers
  • Incinerators
  • Lift stations
  • Microcontrollers — Ion exchangers; Remote terminal unit pump control equipment
  • Mixers or agitators — Aerators; Agitators; Flocculators
  • Nitrogen or nitrate or nitrite analyzer — Ammonium analyzers; Nitrate analyzers
  • Notebook computers
  • Odor control equipment
  • Oil content monitors analyzers — Oil-in-water monitors; Total oil and grease analyzers
  • Organic carbon analyzers — Carbon analyzers; Total organic carbon TOC analyzers
  • Oxygen gas analyzers — Chemical oxygen demand testing equipment
  • Oxygen generators — Aeration compressors; Diffusors
  • Packaged water treatment systems — Anaerobic treatment equipment; Sequential batch reactors
  • pH meters — pH analyzers
  • Positive displacement pumps
  • Screw Pumps — Incline screw pumps
  • Sedimentological analyzing unit — Settleometers
  • Single gas monitors — Chlorine analyzers
  • Sludge collectors — Clarifiers; Incline plate clarifiers
  • Sludge disposal equipment — Sludge injectors
  • Sludge or sewage digesters — Aerobic digesters; Sludge digesters
  • Sludge or sewage removal equipment — Scum ejectors
  • Sludge pelletizers — Filter belt presses; Plate and frame presses
  • Sludge shredders — Comminutors
  • Toxicology analyzers — Toxic gas analyzers
  • Turbidimeters — Suspended solid measurement equipment
  • Ultrafiltration equipment — Backwash filters; Microstrainers; Trickling filter beds; Vacuum filters (see all 6 examples)
  • Ultraviolet disinfection equipment — Ultraviolet UV disinfection systems
  • Valve actuators
  • Water conditioners — Ammoniators
  • Water purification equipment — Flotation equipment; Rotating biological contactors
  • Water samplers — Composite samplers; Wastewater samplers
  • Water treatment dryers — Water treatment evaporators
  • Wet scrubbers — Scrubbers

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
  • Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel Hot technology
  • Time accounting software — Timekeeping software
  • Word processing software — Microsoft Word

Hot technology Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.

back to top

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.
  • Law and Government — Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.
  • Engineering and Technology — Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

back to top

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.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.

back to top

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.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.

back to top

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.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
  • Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
  • Communicating with Persons Outside Organization — Communicating with people outside the organization, representing the organization to customers, the public, government, and other external sources. This information can be exchanged in person, in writing, or by telephone or e-mail.
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
  • Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
  • Provide Consultation and Advice to Others — Providing guidance and expert advice to management or other groups on technical, systems-, or process-related topics.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • Monitoring and Controlling Resources — Monitoring and controlling resources and overseeing the spending of money.
  • Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
  • Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
  • Assisting and Caring for Others — Providing personal assistance, medical attention, emotional support, or other personal care to others such as coworkers, customers, or patients.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.

back to top

Detailed Work Activities

  • Operate chemical processing or water treatment systems or equipment.
  • Inspect production equipment.
  • Collect samples of materials or products for testing.
  • Test chemical or physical characteristics of materials or products.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Direct operational or production activities.
  • Maintain production or processing equipment.
  • Lubricate production equipment.
  • Repair production equipment or tools.
  • Clean production equipment.
  • Clean work areas.

Find occupations related to multiple detailed work activities

back to top

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.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 66% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 45% responded “Extremely important.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 58% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 38% responded “Some freedom.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 43% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 46% responded “Very important.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 38% responded “Very important.”
  • Physical Proximity — 69% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 59% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 57% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Deal With External Customers — 44% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 58% responded “Every day.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 42% responded “Very important results.”
  • Spend Time Standing — 51% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • In an Open Vehicle or Equipment — 20% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Spend Time Walking and Running — 44% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Exposed to Disease or Infections — 68% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 33% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 66% responded “40 hours.”
  • Letters and Memos — 40% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Electronic Mail
  • Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 36% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Deal With Unpleasant or Angry People — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 32% responded “More than half the time.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 57% responded “Important.”
  • Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 34% responded “Once a year or more but not every month.”
  • Time Pressure — 37% responded “Every day.”
  • Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 32% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Spend Time Climbing Ladders, Scaffolds, or Poles — 27% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 41% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Level of Competition — 30% responded “Slightly competitive.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 13% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Spend Time Kneeling, Crouching, Stooping, or Crawling — 23% responded “Continually or almost continually.”

back to top

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, travel guides, electricians, agricultural technicians, barbers, nannies, and medical assistants.
SVP Range (6.0 to < 7.0)

back to top

Education


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

back to top

Credentials

Find Training Find Certifications Find Licenses Find Apprenticeships

back to top

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.

back to top

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.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.

back to top

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.

back to top

Related Occupations

back to top

Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2015) $21.53 hourly, $44,790 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2014) 117,000 employees
Projected growth (2014-2024) Average (5% to 8%) Average (5% to 8%)
Projected job openings (2014-2024) 36,700
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2014)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data external site and 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

back to top

Job Openings on the Web

Find Jobs

back to top

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.

back to top