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Operator Certification Information Center

For the Certification Exam Schedule, click here.

Required Security Course - All Operators

The Water and Wastewater Systems Operators' Certification Regulation mandates that all certified operators complete the DEP's system security course called "Securing Drinking Water and Wastewater Facilities."  This requirement encompasses all classifications of operators, including those with a "grandfathered" certificate (i.e., NTNC drinking water certificate or CSSP wastewater certificate).  The course must be completed by the end of the operator's first full cycle that begins on or after October 1, 2010.  So, if your license expiration date is 9/30/13, 12/31/13, 3/31/14, 6/30/14 and on, you MUST have the security course completed.  Failure to complete the course will result in the loss of your license.  You only need to take the course once!
For more information on completing the course, click here.

REPORT ON PENNSYLVANIA'S OPERATOR CERTIFICATION PROGRAM

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requires all states to complete an external review of their Operator Certification Program at least once every five years. External program reviews provide the state with a report describing the results of the review and listing recommendations for improving the program.

In 2015, DEP initiated an external review covering calendar years 2011 through 2015. The Certification Program Advisory Committee (CPAC) served as the review team. CPAC's final report was presented to the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators (Board) on Dec. 10, 2015. The board unanimously approved the report.

The following information includes the strengths of Pennsylvania's operator program, areas of weakness, and recommendations for improvements. The information also includes the results of an electronic statewide survey that was distributed to drinking water and wastewater certified operators, system owners, training and exam providers, and examinees during July 1 through Sept. 30, 2015.

  • Five-Year External Review Report (PDF) – a 10-page report on the Operator Certification Program covering calendar years 2011 through 2015.
  • Appendix A (PDF) – statistics presented in graphical format on operator certificates in Pennsylvania, operator demographics, certification exam pass rates and exams offered, facility types, numbers of uncertified operators and inappropriately certified operators, and much more.
  • Appendix B (PDF) – all questions in the electronic survey and a breakdown of the answers as well as all of the respondents' unaltered comments.

The State Board for Certification of Water and Water Systems Operators (63 P.S. §§ 1001 to 1015.1)

The Water and Wastewater Systems Operators Certification Act (Act) created the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators (Board). The Board consists of the DEP's Secretary, or designated representative, and six additional Board members appointed by the Governor.

The Board's duties and powers include (1) the review of applications for certification, recertification, and renewal of certification of water and wastewater system operators; (2) administration of DEP examinations concerning the competency of applicants for certification and recertification; and (3) review, provide written comments, and make recommendation to DEP on proposed rules and regulations implementing the Act prior to the submission to the Environmental Quality Board.

For more information, visit the web page for the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater System Operators in the Public Participation Center.

Advisory Concerning Operator Misconduct

The Water and Wastewater Systems Operators Certification Act (Act) grants DEP with the ability to petition the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators (Board) to revoke, suspend, or modify the certification of water and wastewater system operators based on operator misconduct. Operator misconduct includes, but is not limited to, falsification of certification application, certificates, sample results, monitoring records, or other records relating to the operation of a water and wastewater system. The Act grants the Board with the authority to revoke, suspend, or modify an operator's certificate based on the operator's misconduct.

DEP has petitioned the Board to take action on a number of cases involving falsification of operating records and falsification of certificates. Under Pennsylvania's Crimes Code (18 Pa.C.S. §§ 101 to 9402), it is a criminal offense if a person knowingly makes a false entry in, or false alteration of a record or document that (1) belongs to, is received by, or is kept by a government agency for its own information or records, or (2) is required by law to be kept by others for information of the government. A person committing this offense is guilty of tampering with public records or information (18 Pa.C.S. § 4911), a second degree misdemeanor. If the person committing this offense also acted with intent to defraud or injure anyone, the offense is a third degree felony. A person committing this offense may be subject to prosecution in the appropriate Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Operator Handbook

The purpose of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Operator Certification Program is to protect public health, safety, and the environment and promote the long-term sustainability of the Commonwealth's drinking water and wastewater treatment systems. The attached Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Operator Certification Program Handbook is now publicly available to assist operators and system owners in understanding program elements. Inside this handbook:

  • Introduction and background information on the Operator Certification Program
  • Requirements and activities associated with becoming a certified operator
  • The process for applying for a certificate
  • Certificate renewal and continuing education requirements
  • Grandparenting provisions for operators
  • System classes and subclassifications
  • System operation and process control
  • Using DEP's Operator Information Center website

The appendices also contain helpful information and templates, including the need-to-know criteria for examinations, definitions of classes and subclasses, a template for an operator report to the system owner, example templates for Standard Operating Procedures, an example process control plan template, and circuit rider work plans and management plan templates.

The Drinking Water and Wastewater Systems Operator Certification Program Handbook is available on line

Operator Certification Regulations Finalized

The Water and Wastewater Systems Operators Certification Program Regulations, Chapter 302 were published as final in the Pennsylvania Bulletin on Sept. 18, 2010. There are a few things that will change as a result of the new regulations. These include:

  • creation of a laboratory supervisor subclassification;
  • requirement that a general work plan and/or a system specific management plan be developed for circuit rider systems;
  • successful completion of Securing Drinking Water and Wastewater Treatment Facilities security training course by every certified operator (Click for Info);
  • accelerated Certification; and
  • new fees to cover the costs for program implementation. Click here to see fee table.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I become a certified operator? 
On the Initial Certification page, download the Operator Certification Process at a Glance document.

How do I prepare for initial certification exams? 

Many of the courses approved by DEP for continuing education can help prepare an applicant to get certified for the first time. Search the course catalog at the EarthWise Academy for available classroom and web-based courses. Contact the training provider directly for a comprehensive list of pre-certification course offerings.

How do I schedule an exam? 

The dates of upcoming exams are listed on the Certification Exam Schedule. View the list and decide which exam date and location is best. Then contact that exam provider to register for an exam or to get on a waiting list.

What are the continuing education requirements for certified operators? 

Here are the current continuing education requirements. The continuing education requirements established for your license class and the three-year renewal cycle must be met.

Where do I go to view my continuing education hours on record with DEP? 

The EarthWise Academy transcript shows completed training completed within the current three-year training cycle. Simply enter the DEP client ID number to view the "official" transcript. The number of continuing education contact hours recorded here is the total used by DEP to process the renewal of the certificate.

Where do I find the continuing education courses that are approved by DEP? 

The Course Catalog has information on all of the courses approved by DEP to help the operator meet the continuing education requirements for certified operators. Many of the approved courses can help prepare the applicant to get certified for the first time. Click the "Show Search Options" button to conduct a search based on course description, training sponsor or format or other parameters.