Water Treatment Plant Manager: Job Description and Requirements

Sep 24, 2019

A water treatment plant manager is responsible for the overall operations within a water treatment facility. Duties typically include worker supervision, enforcing plant procedures and policies, conducting performance reviews, and overseeing training programs. Water treatment managers must have valid state certification.

Essential Information

A water treatment plant manager oversees all of a plant's functions, including water storage, treatment and delivery operations. Due to strict state and federal regulations in water treatment, management positions require experience, education and certification.

Required Education Postsecondary certificate or degree in water treatment or related field combined with experience
Other Requirements State certification required
Median Annual Wage (2019) $65,774*
Projected Job Growth (2018-2028) 5% decline for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators**

Source: *PayScale, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Water Treatment Plant Manager Job Description

Water treatment plant managers oversee the treatment, distribution and daily operations of water treatment facilities. They supervise teams of operators, institute plant policies and procedures, direct training programs and complete employee performance reviews. Managers ensure that the plant and its operators comply with state health standards by regularly testing the water supply and keeping meticulous records. They're also responsible for maintaining a safe work environment and ensuring all equipment is in proper working condition.

In September 2019, PayScale.com listed a median yearly salary of $65,744 for water treatment plant managers and indicated that most earned within a range of $41,000 and $102,000 per year. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts an employment decrease of 5% for water treatment plant system operators from 2018-2028.

Work Environment

A career as a water treatment plant manager is physically demanding and often involves working outdoors in all types of weather. They often work in hazardous conditions surrounded by loud machinery and dangerous chemicals. According to the BLS, water treatment plant employees suffer from an unusually high rate of occupational injuries. Since water treatment plants operate every day, plant managers often work days, evenings, weekends and overtime hours.

Water Treatment Plant Manager Requirements

Many water treatment plant managers begin their careers as operators and work their way up to managerial positions. Requirements to become a plant manager may vary according to state, employer and local regulations, but typically include work experience, additional education and state certification.

Educational Requirements

While the typical requirement for an entry-level position in a water treatment plant is a high school diploma, employers may prefer applicants with a certificate or associate's degree in water treatment. An educational program in this field focuses on water analysis and treatment procedures. Coursework may include water chemistry, microbiology and hydraulics. Students may also receive leadership training with coursework in communications and employee supervision.

State Certification

To work in a water treatment plant, employees must earn state certification, which is usually offered at four levels. Depending on the state, certification may be in water treatment, waste water or drinking water. To advance to managerial positions, operators typically have to obtain all four levels of certification.

Generally, the first level of certification is for entry-level operators and only requires a high school diploma and passage of a written examination. Subsequent levels require increased amounts of education and work experience. Some states hold their own certification examinations, while others accept certification through professional organizations.

The Association of Boards of Certification offers level-four water treatment plant certification. Obtaining the highest certification requires passing an exam with a score of at least 70%, fulfilling 1800 hours of post-high school instruction and gaining four years of approved work experience, of which two years must be in a leadership position.

Many water treatment plant managers begin their careers in an entry-level position, such as a plant operator. To become a manager at a plant, a certificate or associate's degree in water treatment, combined with a few years of work experience, are required.

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