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Initial Certification

Becoming a Certified Operator

Becoming a certified operator involves the following:

  • Meeting education requirements - The applicant must be at least a high school graduate, possess a GED or was working in a water or wastewater system before Feb. 21, 2002.
  • Passing examination(s) - To become an appropriately certified operator the applicant must pass the Part 1 - General Exam and all the Part II - Technology Specific Exams that apply to the system at which they work or want to work. The certified operator could also take one of the stand-alone exams
  • Meeting operating experience requirements - An applicant must meet the appropriate work experience requirements for the class and subclass in which they would like to be certified. Applicants that currently work, or previously worked, at a system will be issued a license with a classification and subclassification based on that experience. Education can also supplement some of the experience requirement.
  • Applying for certification Once the necessary examinations have been passed, an applicant must complete and submit an application for certification to the State Board for Certification of Water and Wastewater Systems Operators with the appropriate fee. This application must also include a criminal history record report from the Pennsylvania State Police. The application must be presented to the Board for approval. If, and when, the application is approved, the applicant will be issued the appropriate operator certificate.
  • IMPORTANT 2023 Application Submission Deadlines for each Board Meeting: The State Board for Certification of Water & Wastewater Systems Operators (Board) has established deadlines in advance of each Board Meeting for receipt of all complete initial, upgrade and reciprocity applications. Please see below table for a list of all 2023 Board Meeting dates and the associated deadlines for receipt of a complete application at DEP Operator Certification, PO Box 8454, Harrisburg, PA 17105-8454:

    Complete Application Received By Deadline Board Meeting Date
    January 27, 2023February 8, 2023
    March 24, 2023April 5, 2023
    June 2, 2023June 14, 2023
    July 28, 2023August 9, 2023
    September 29, 2023October 11, 2023
    November 22, 2023December 6, 2023

    In order to allow adequate time for Department and Board members to evaluate applications, any application that is received after the deadline listed above for each Board meeting will be considered by the Board at the following Board meeting. For example, applications which are received on January 28, 2023 will be considered at the April 5, 2023 Board meeting.

The complete certification process is summarized in the " Operator Certification Process at a Glance (PDF)" job aid.

After reviewing the PDF,you can find additional details regarding classifications, applying experience, and preparing for the exams by using the menu to the right.

Initial certification fees are outlined here.