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Water Plant Technician: Job Description and Requirements

Find out what a water plant technician does. Explore the training, skills, salary and employment outlook to see if this is the right occupation for you.

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Career Definition

Water plant technicians are intermediate-level water plant operators responsible for water treatment and distribution systems. A career in water plant technology involves the maintenance and repair of water distribution and treatment equipment. Under the supervision of water plant operators, water plant technicians take measurements of water quality and make adjustments to the chemicals used to make water potable and safe.

How to Become a Water Plant Technician

Required Education

Many water treatment technicians have received 1-year vocational school training or 2-year associate's-level training in water treatment, though completion of these programs is not necessary to enter the field. Water treatment technicians must be certified by the states in which they work, as required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Skills Required

Water plant technicians must be capable of taking measurements and interpreting that information to improve water quality. A career in water plant technology requires basic knowledge of federal and state water quality regulations. Water plant technicians work under the supervision of other water plant operators, and they must be able to efficiently take direction.

Career and Economic Outlook

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected that the field of water quality and treatment will grow about 8% between 2012 and 2022, which is as fast as the average profession. New opportunities are expected to arise with population growth and the increasing complexity of the controls and systems. As of March 2014, water plant technicians entering the field earned a median income of $18 per hour, according to Salary.com. After five years of experience, the median wage for water plant technicians rose to $24 per hour, per the same source.

Alternate Career Options

Power Plant Operator, Distributor and Dispatcher

In general, these professionals control the power from plants that generate electricity with sources such as gas, wind, water and nuclear power. They then allow the flow to substations, to be distributed among homes and businesses. At least a high school degree is required, along with comprehensive training on the job and possible aptitude exams, in addition to licensing for nuclear power reactor operators. An 8% decline was expected by the BLS for these positions during the decade ending in 2022, due in part to advances in technology. That same source reported an annual median wage of $68,230 for these operators, distributors and dispatchers in 2012.

Hydrologist

A master's degree in the natural sciences, along with licensing in some states, is usually required for hydrologists who study the movement of water throughout the Earth, often working toward solutions of water availability and quality. Average employment growth of 10% was forecast by the BLS from 2012-2022 for hydrologists. The BLS also noted an annual median salary of $75,530 for these positions in 2012.

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