How do I get Started in the Wastewater Treatment Industry?

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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 10 October 2019
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A career in the wastewater treatment industry requires a combination of technical skill, creativity, and in-depth knowledge. Wastewater treatment facilities are built as part of the infrastructure for any community with indoor plumbing capacity. This type of service is typically managed by a central government agency.

Wastewater is created by rainwater, as well as both residential and commercial internal plumbing systems. It is important to realize that the primary goal of this industry is remove materials from wastewater before it is reintroduced to the primary water source, which is typically a lake or underground water table. People who have a poor tolerance for smells or queasy stomachs will not find work in the wastewater treatment industry enjoyable.

Post-secondary education is mandatory to get started in the wastewater treatment industry. The level of information required is not taught at the high school level. Although many of the techniques are learned on the job, the risk is quite high for widespread illness if the operators do not have a clear understanding of biochemistry, biology, or water treatment processes.

There are two levels of education: university or college. University training provides the greatest flexibility for promotion within this industry. A degree in chemistry, biochemistry, or related field is required. A college training program limits the promotional opportunities available, but is required to get started in this industry. Training as a chemical technologist or related technician is generally required.


Experience is typically gained through a work placement program, offered by the post-secondary training program. Obtaining your first position in the wastewater treatment industry can be quite difficult. Look for locations that are offering internship programs, as these plants are actively recruiting entry-level staff. It is important to be prepared to physically move to another city where there is a job opening.

In the 1980s and 1990s, it was much easier to get started in this industry. The educational requirements were limited to a high school diploma and the completion of a short training course. However, a series of high profile incidents of widespread illness due to improperly treated wastewater has resulting in increased regulations and stricter enforcement.

Another way to get started in this industry is to obtain a position in an equipment supplier. This type of firm often provides a range of services, from equipment sales to installation and support. Training in mechanical engineering at either the university or college level is required, in addition to mechanical aptitude and an outgoing manner.



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