Operator Certification Levels

By: Adam Stephenson | Nov 03, 2020

Operator certification levels are governed by general statutes in each state. These general statutes specify what is required to be eligible for a specific certification.   Most certifications follow a similar path, so we will illustrate one example in this article.

Biological Water Pollution Control System Operator Certification.

There are 4 levels of operator certification, from Grade I through IV. Grade I is the entry level certification that does not require wastewater experience. Grade IV requires years of experience and education to obtain. These grades are based in conjunction with plant level ratings. Plants are rated based on design flow and type of processes involved.

 

GENERAL REQUIREMENTS

To apply for water pollution control system operator certification, you must meet specific criteria. You must also possess the knowledge and skills listed below in relation to the specific type of system for which certification is being sought.

  • An applicant must possess a high school diploma or a general educational development (GED) equivalent
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Must also have a general knowledge of typical wastewater characteristics and treatment processes.

The following abilities required refer to record keeping, safety, and basic math function.

  • read and understand the statutes and rules which govern water pollution control system operators and the operation of the type of system for which certification is being sought
  • perform mathematical calculations required to operate the system for which certification is being sought
  • complete and maintain logs and regulatory reporting forms required to document the proper operation of the system
  • safely and effectively operate the equipment employed in the type of system for which certification is being sought
  • describe the general maintenance requirements for such equipment.

 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR BIOLOGICAL WATER POLLUTION CONTROL SYSTEM OPERATORS

GRADE I

This is for your basic entry level operator job.  Typical jobs tasks would include performing visual checks on equipment and process, checking gauges and readings, etc.

 

For Grade I certification, the applicant must have successfully completed approved training for Grade I biological water pollution control system operators.

Since Grade I certification requires no work experience, this is a great way to get a certification before you have a job in the wastewater field. Obtaining Grade I certification lets hiring companies know you are serious about the job and self-motivated.

Grade II

For Grade II certification, the applicant must:

  • hold a valid North Carolina Grade I Biological Water Pollution Control System Operator certificate,
  • have 6 months of actual experience at a Grade II or higher biological water pollution control system and
  • have successfully completed approved training for Grade II Biological Water Pollution Control System operators.

This is achieved after you have some experience in the field and have worked at a plant for 6 months to a year.

A Grade II training class also counts as continuing education hours which are required to keep your certification active.

Grade III

For Grade III certification, the applicant must:

  • hold a valid North Carolina Grade II Biological Water Pollution Control System Operator certificate
  • have successfully completed approved training for Grade III Biological Water Pollution Control System operators.
  • There is also an option for at Grade III to utilize college education towards experience requirements.

You can either have two years of actual experience at a Grade II, or higher, biological water pollution control system, or be a graduate of two- or four-year college or university and have taken and passed a minimum of six courses in the basic sciences, and have 18 months of actual experience at a Grade II, or higher, biological water pollution control system.

Grade III is certification level for the more career-minded individual. This is a level of certification where many operators become backup Operators in Responsible Charge (ORC). There is a higher level of responsibility and accountability at this stage.

Grade IV

For Grade IV certification, the applicant must:

  • hold a valid North Carolina Grade III Biological Water Pollution Control System Operator certificate
  • have successfully completed approved training for Grade IV Biological Water Pollution Control System operators.
  • Again, this level allows college education to count towards experience.

You must have three years of actual experience at a Grade III, or higher, biological water pollution control system, or be a graduate of a two- or four-year college or university and have taken and passed a minimum of six courses in the basic sciences, and have two years of actual experience at a Grade III, or higher, biological water pollution control system.

Grade IV is for those who would like to become ORCs of a system. This would mean you are fully responsible for all aspects of maintenance and operations of your plant. In many instances, you would be supervising other operators and responsible for budgeting and financial aspects of the plant as well.

 

Although there are variations by state and operator license type, most states have a similar grading level based on knowledge and experience.  There is also a continuing education component where most states require further training to keep your current certification current.   JADE Learning offers continuing education to help operators maintain their licenses.

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