Schools with Wastewater Treatment Programs: How to Choose

Licensed wastewater treatment technicians and wastewater plant operators make sure that water is purified to local, state and federal specifications. Water purification technology requires technical and applied science skills that can be learned through trade programs at vocational and community colleges.

How to Select a Wastewater Treatment School

Aspiring wastewater treatment technicians may gain training through 1-year certificate programs or 2-year associate's degree programs. Certificate programs offer students the basic skills they need for entry-level jobs operating wastewater treatment facilities. Associate's degree programs offer additional advanced courses, and these programs may qualify graduates for wastewater technician positions.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Program certification
  • State licensure requirements

Program Certification

Wastewater treatment technicians are required to be licensed by the state in which they work. Requirements vary by state, and relicensure may be necessary if an individual wishes to work in another state. Programs endorsed by the Association of Boards of Certification are most likely to be accepted in more than one state.

State Licensure Requirements

Some states have up to four different levels of licensure based on the type of work an employee performs within a wastewater treatment facility. Students might research state education and experience requirements in order to ensure that they receive the necessary level of training.

Program Overviews

Wastewater Treatment Certificates

Certificate programs are offered in water treatment and distribution system technology, wastewater management and wastewater plant operations. Some certificate programs offer internships that allow students to experience wastewater treatment technology firsthand. The curriculum typically includes courses such as:

  • Wastewater science
  • Membrane technology
  • Ion exchange technology
  • Treatment systems
  • Water collection systems

Associate's Degrees in Wastewater Technology

Associate's degree programs are available in water and wastewater treatment, wastewater technology, water purification technology and environmental health technology. Through course work and practical labs, students learn to calibrate, maintain and operate water treatment equipment. They learn to follow safety procedures, regulations and ethical guidelines, and use computers for operating water treatment machinery. Typical courses might include:

  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Hydrology
  • Advanced water technology

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