Water Treatment Degree Programs and Career Options

Get information on certificate and associate's degree programs in water treatment. See prerequisites, learn about required courses, get information on career options and learn about certification requirements.

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Essential Information

Water treatment involves purifying water resources, eliminating the contaminants in a water supply to make it healthy, safe and clean for a community and the natural environment. Workers in water treatment typically have a water treatment certificate or associate's degree. They work at water treatment plants, with tasks including operating machinery, doing maintenance, and managing the plant.

Courses at the certificate and associate's degree level cover the basics of the water treatment process including treatment plant operations, the chemistry of water treatment, and various technologies used to purify water. Certificate programs are brief, requiring a few months of courses. Associate's degree programs take two years of study and also require general education courses in topics such as English composition and mathematics. Most states also require that water treatment plant operators be certified. This usually calls for meeting education and training requirements and passing an exam.


Certificate in Water Treatment

At the certificate level, courses in water treatment serve as an introduction, covering the technologies, systems and other fundamentals of the process. Students gain knowledge of the science involved in water treatment and training in the operations of a water treatment plant. This training prepares them for entry-level careers in water treatment or, if they are already working in the industry, prospects for career advancement.

Program Coursework

Certificate programs in water treatment provide both knowledge of water treatment and hands-on experience at water treatment plants. Courses typically cover the basic structure of the process, along with relevant scientific topics such as hydraulics and bacteriology.

  • Plant operations
  • Water treatment systems
  • Chemistry and bacteriology
  • Water treatment technologies

Popular Career Options

Typical entry-level careers in water treatment are at water treatment or wastewater treatment plants, which keep a community's water source clean and safe. State water treatment plants have several levels of additional certification, and also require operators to pass an examination.

  • Water treatment supervisor
  • Water treatment plant operator
  • Wastewater treatment plant operator

Associate Degree in Water Treatment

Water treatment tends to be covered by associate degrees in wastewater technology or water equipment technology. Classes focus on the technologies, operations and procedures of water treatment plants. After graduation, students can seek work at water treatment plants or continue studying toward a bachelor's degree in environmental engineering.

Program Coursework

Similar to the classes in the certificate program, courses for the associate's degree involve the operations and systems of water treatment plants.

  • Laboratory skills and procedures
  • Water and wastewater technology
  • Plant operations
  • Water treatment systems

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Most work in water treatment is at government water treatment plants, on the local level, although private firms run an increasing number of plants. Water treatment operators earn a median salary of $42,760 a year, according to a 2012 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey. Job prospects are positive from 2010-2020 because population growth will drive demand for water treatment and many experienced workers are expected to retire.

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    Areas of study you may find at Eastern Kentucky University include:
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      • Undergraduate: Associate, Bachelor
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