Work with chemicals to help treat water either for consumption or release back into the environment. Control a system of machines to transfer or treat drinking or wastewater, and managers work to ensure the entire plant runs smoothly. Water is the most crucial resource for human survival, and ensuring it is clean for both the environment and human consumption is highly valued.

Make a Difference

A Typical Day

  • Add chemicals, such as ammonia, chlorine, or lime, to disinfect and deodorize water and other liquids.
  • Collect and test water and sewage samples, using test equipment and color analysis standards.
  • Record operational data, personnel attendance, or meter and gauge readings on specified forms.
  • Operate and adjust controls on equipment to purify and clarify water, process or dispose of sewage, and generate power.
  • Inspect equipment or monitor operating conditions, meters, and gauges to determine load requirements and detect malfunctions.

Recommended Credentials

High School Diploma required, certificate or an associate's degree preferred

Education & Training

Regional employers often hire graduates of these programs.


Northwest Lower Michigan


Elsewhere in Michigan


Drinking Water Operator Certification Program
— Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Wastewater Operator Certification Program
— Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE)

Explore This Career

Try it before you buy it!

Watch this video tour of the Traverse City water treatment plant.

Go on an in-person tour of your local treatment facility.

The Local Advantage Learning Pathway

Pathway 1

Take science classes, especially biology and chemistry. 

Join or start an environmental club.

Pathway 2

Great Lakes Water Studies Institute Freshwater Studies Program
— Northwestern Michigan College

Pathway 3

Complete the Operator Training Certification through Michigan's Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.


Sample Employers in Our Region

Click the logos below to learn more.


Contact one of these companies and ask for an informational interview, to see if you can job shadow, or to find out if they hire interns.


Sample Job Titles...

Process Operator
Relief Operator
SCADA Operator (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition Operator)
Water Control Dispatcher
Water Plant Operator
Water Treatment Operator


10-Year Job Growth Projections

10-County Region

Employed Regionally

In 2021 (10-County Region)

Wage Range & Median 10-County Region


Annual Hires Regionally

In 2021

Other Regional Career Resources

Learn more about Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and Systems Operators at O*NET Online.

Further career information: Water Treatment Worker