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Applying Experience and Education

All certified operators must have a high school diploma or GED and meet the experience requirements outlined in the table below. The required amount of experience depends on the size of the system and education level of the applicant. The larger treatment systems require a higher-class certification to operate. The higher the class, the more experience required.

What Qualifies as Experience?

Experience at a treatment system may involve different activities. It is recommended that applicants for certification have experience in different areas of their system. It is important to understand that no applicant should be making any process control decision, but may assist a certified operator to make those decisions. All applications should include experience related to the following:

  • Operation of mechanical equipment
  • Maintenance of mechanical equipment
  • Collection of samples
  • Analysis of chemical and biological samples
  • Performing calculations related to process control
  • Preparing or standardizing chemical and biological solutions
  • Compiling and completing monitoring data
  • Determining appropriate process control measures

Professional engineers and industry inspection/compliance staff may meet special qualifications for experience as provided by Board policy.

Applying Education to Experience:

The board offers two ways of obtaining the required experience for certification, which are called Tracks. There are two tracks available to all operators based on their education.

  • Track 1 is for applicants having a high school diploma or GED.
  • Track 2 is for applicants having advanced educational training, including certificate programs.

It is important to remember that an applicant can only choose one track option. Applicants cannot mix and match requirements.

Track 1 (high school diploma or GED)
In choosing this option, an applicant can supplement up to 50% of the required experience with education as follows. Successful completion of every 10 hours of post high school or post GED water or wastewater related training (as applicable) approved by DEP and determined by the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators (Board) to be applicable to the certification sought.

Track 2:
Track 2 applications use certificate programs and advanced degrees to offset the experience requirements. If choosing this option, applicants cannot use DEP-approved training to offset experience as done in Track 1.

Click here to see the full Experience Requirements table.

Important reminders:

  • DEP has approved only the certificate programs listedin " Preparing for the Exam"at this time.
  • Experience means the number of complete years or months that meet the requirements of qualifying experience provided above.
  • An operator, who has worked in a water system, may substitute up to 50 percent of that time as experience toward meeting the wastewater experience requirement.
  • An operator who has worked in a wastewater system may substitute up to 50 percent of that time as experience toward meeting the drinking water experience requirement.