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Indiana Department of Environmental Management

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Table of Contents: Water Quality

Wastewater Operator Certification

If waste water is treated, a certified operator is required regardless of the type of facility or discharge. Thus, any responsible charge operator of a municipal, industrial, or industrial pretreatment facility must be certified and their certification class must match the classification of that facility or be a higher level. Waste Water Operator Certification Examinations are given at least once annually. There are exams for ten different classifications.  

The latest version of 327-IAC 5-22, effective March 18, 2008 includes a new classification designation of "Waste Water Apprentice". The apprentice classification allows persons with no experience at a waste water treatment facility to take the same certification examination taken by those wishing to obtain certification. The person need only complete the short Apprentice exam form. Apprenticeship is not a certification, but having passed the exam might allow an apprentice to more easily get a job in the wastewater industry and acquire the necessary experience to then apply for certification.

Some of the things any first time applicants, and all those wishing to upgrade their certification levels, must do to obtain an IDEM Wastewater Operator Certification Card include (but are not limited to):

  • Submit an application to IDEM to take the certification examination, noting that the application must be postmarked at least 45 days before the exam is held;
  • Pay a $30 application fee;
  • Receive IDEM approval that the applicant has the educational level and experience necessary to qualify for the specific exam they wish to take. The minimum requirements to sit for an exam are:
    • one year of hands-on experience in the operation of wastewater treatment plants and a GED or high school diploma -- there is no substitution of education for the one year of experience;
      Note: these qualifications do not apply to those wishing to take the exam as an Apprentice; and,
  • Score seventy (70) percent on the exam to gain initial certification or to upgrade certification levels.

Those planning to take the certification examination may prepare for it however they wish. Many continuing education course providers also offer exam preparation and basic waste water treatment courses. Potential applicants may access this Web site for everything necessary to apply for the exam and determine the necessary materials needed to study for the exam.

Renewal notices are mailed May 1 of each year, which is 30 days prior to the expiration of the certification card.

Applicants wishing merely to renew their operator certification card at their existing certification level:

  • Must make certain proof of their continuing education contact hours has been forwarded to IDEM;
  • Must respond to the renewal notice sent by IDEM to all those whose certification card is scheduled to expire in that year;
  • Are encouraged to renew online from May 1 to July 1; and,
  • Enclose a $30 application fee with the response.

What to Expect

Examinations are given at least once annually, but currently are offered twice yearly in April and October at three or more different testing sites. Exam dates are announced on IDEM's web site, in local newspapers and in trade association newsletters. All exams must be graded within 60 days, although most are graded within 30 days, and certificates and certification cards are issued to all those who pass the exam. Although individual scores are confidential, the lists of which applicants pass, and which fail, are public information. Renewal certification cards are mailed out beginning in mid-June of each year.

For Additional Information:

To learn more about IDEM's Wastewater Operator Certification program, including information on certification, continuing education, exam preparation materials, forms and applications, and a list of approved training providers, contact IDEM’s Wastewater Certification Program staff at (800) 451-6027, ext. 2-8791 or visit IDEM’s OWQ "Wastewater Certification and Continuing Education" Web page.