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Operator-In-Training (OIT)

Operator Certification Program

Operator-In-Training (OIT)

It is illegal to operate a public, or private wastewater treatment plant regulated by the PUC, without a valid certificate. If it takes experience to get a certificate, how can someone without a certificate get experience? The answer is the OIT certificate. The OIT certificate is a valid temporary certificate that allows someone to get experience as an operator.

The regulations define OIT as “any person who operates a wastewater treatment plant under the direct supervision of a certified operator while gaining experience to qualify for an operator certificate.”

An Operator-In-Training (OIT) is a person who has been issued a certificate by the State Water Resources Control Board, Operator Certification program and who is acquiring qualifying experience at a wastewater treatment plant under the direct supervision of an operator at the same or a higher grade level as the OIT.

An owner may employ or train an OIT at any grade level, provided the OIT is under the direct supervision of an operator at the same or a higher grade level as the OIT and is performing the duties at the grade level for which the certificate was issued. An OIT may not supervise operators or other OITs. An OIT may not be a chief plant operator (CPO), designated operator-in-charge, or lone operator.

Requirements for Operator-In-Training Certificate

An applicant for an OIT certificate must meet the educational requirements for the grade for which the applicant is applying. Please refer to the Operator Certification Requirements Table for specific path requirements.

An applicant for a Grade I OIT certificate may, but is not required to, pass the Grade I examination before being issued an OIT certificate. (Please note that an applicant cannot renew a Grade I OIT certificate without passing an examination at the Grade I level or higher.)

An applicant for a Grade II through Grade V OIT certificate must have passed an examination at that grade level or higher and the applicant’s examination results must not have expired.

Application for Operator-In-Training Certification

Submit the following items:

  1. A complete OIT application with the CPO’s and the applicant’s original signatures;
  2. Unless previously provided to the Office of Operator Certification (OOC), attach documents verifying that you meet the educational requirements for the grade for which you are applying. Please refer to the Operator Certification Requirements Table for specific path requirements;
  3. Attach a current duty statement on official letterhead or signed by the CPO; and
  4. A check or money order for the appropriate application fees made payable to the “State Water Resources Control Board” to the address below:

    State Water Resources Control Board
    Office of Operator Certification
    P.O. Box 944212
    1001 I Street, 17th Floor
    Sacramento, CA 94244-2120

    (Note:  Application fees are not refundable.)

Employment or Training of an Operator-In-Training

Once the OOC approves an application, the OOC will issue an OIT certificate allowing the applicant to operate the wastewater treatment plant for which the OIT certificate was issued. An OIT must be under the direct supervision of a certified operator at that same or a higher grade level as the OIT. 

It is against the law to operate a wastewater treatment plant prior to receiving an OIT certificate, provisional operator certificate, or an operator certificate.

OIT certificates are valid only while the OIT is in training at the wastewater treatment plant for which the certificate was issued. When the training ceases, the chief plant operator shall return the certificate to the Office of Operator Certification within 30 days with a statement as to the amount of qualifying experience the operator-in-training acquired before training ceased.

Qualifying Experience and the Definition of “Full-Time”

To obtain an operator certificate, an OIT must meet the qualifying experience requirements for the applicable grade level. Please refer to the Operator Certification Requirements Table for specific path requirements.

“Full time” for purposes of qualifying experience means any of the following:

  1. an average of 40 hours worked per week by an operator or operator-in-training at a wastewater treatment plant while performing job duties that meet the definition of qualifying experience. Any used paid vacation or sick leave earned as a result of hours spent performing job duties that meet the definition of qualifying experience may be counted toward full-time employment.  In no case, however, may an operator or operator-in-training be considered to be working full time if he or she spends less than 1,800 hours per year performing duties defined as qualifying experience;
  2. less than an average of 40 hours worked per week by an operator or provisional operator at a wastewater treatment plant if the operator or provisional operator is solely responsible for the operation of a wastewater treatment plant; or
  3. less than an average of 40 hours worked per week by an operator-in-training at a wastewater treatment plant if the operator-in-training works as the only operator-in-training under the direct supervision of an operator who is solely responsible for the operation of the wastewater treatment plant and who is working less than an average of 40 hours per week.

Questions or Comments?

If you have additional questions, please contact the Office of Operator Certification by email at: OpcertProgram@waterboards.ca.gov or at (916) 341-5819, select #3.