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Wastewater Operator Certification Program

Wastewater Operator Certification Program

Operator-In-Training (OIT)

An Operator-In-Training (OIT) is a person who has been issued a certificate by the State Water Resources Control Board, Wastewater Operator Certification Program (WWOCP) and is acquiring qualifying experience at a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) under the direct supervision of an operator at the same or a higher grade level as the OIT.  OIT’s must complete one full year of qualifying experience or a minimum of 1,800 hours in wastewater operations to become certified.

An OIT may not supervise operators or other OITs. An OIT may not be a chief plant operator (CPO), designated operator-in-charge, or a lone operator as per the California Code of Regulations under Article 4.

For more information, please take a look at the: Operator-In-Training (OIT) Information Brochure.

Requirements for Operator-In-Training Certificate

  • Meet the minimum education requirements. Please refer to the Operator Certification Requirements Table for specific path requirements.
    • 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 (examination results are valid for four years based on the date listed on the examination pass letter).
  • Secure a position (either paid or volunteer) with a wastewater treatment plant that has been classified by the WWOCP.

Application for Operator-In-Training Certification

  • Complete the OIT application and include the following:
    • Chief plant operator (CPO) signature on the OIT application.
    • Applicant has signed the OIT application.
    • Attach a current duty statement on the wastewater treatment plants official letterhead or have the duty statement signed by the CPO.
    • Unless previously provided to the WWOCP, attach educational documents (copies of official college transcripts, certificates of course completion, etc.) 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 and the Training Directory for accepted coursework and how educational points are allotted.
    • Submit a check, money order or online ACH payment* with the appropriate application fee.  Make check or money order to the “State Water Resources Control Board” to the following address:

      State Water Resources Control Board
      Wastewater Operator Certification
      P.O. Box 944212
      1001 I Street, 17th Floor
      Sacramento, CA 94244-212

*Note: The WWOCP can now accept online checking/savings account payments.  Instructions are available on the WWOCP home webpage http://www.waterboards.ca.gov/water_issues/programs/operator_certification/operator_certification.shtml at the bottom of the page, locate the Online Payments Section. (Note:  Application fees are not refundable.)

Employment or Training of an Operator-In-Training

Once the application is approved, the WWOCP 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.

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 must return the certificate to the WWOCP within 30 days.  The CPO must sign a statement as to the amount of qualifying experience the operator-in-training acquired before the training ceased with the start and end dates. The CPO must provide the WWOCP with the start and end dates of experience as well as the amount of hours completed in wastewater operations.  The CPO may use the OIT Qualifying Experience Form to document the OIT hours.

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.

"Qualifying Experience" is defined as wastewater operational duties that require operators to have OIT or certified wastewater operators to perform.  Examples of wastewater operational duties include: adjusting gauges, adjusting dials and valves, adding chemicals, monitoring SCADA, taking samples, reading and monitoring gauges, and visual inspections of operational equipment.

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

  1. an average of 40 hours worked per week by an 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-in-training at a wastewater treatment plant if the operator-in-training works as the only operator-in-training under the direct supervision of a certified  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 OIT Certification Analyst, Debbie Zuccala by email at: wwopcertprogram@waterboards.ca.gov or by phone at (916) 341-5639.