How to Get Certified as a Water Distribution, Water Treatment, Wastewater Treatment, or Wastewater Collection Operator

Overall Requirements:

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) offers certification exams in four different system types: water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection and wastewater treatment. There are five levels of certification in each system type (Provisional, I, II, III, and IV). Operators must meet experience and education requirements before being approved to take a certification exam. The following chart summarizes those requirements for each certification level and system type. The requirements are listed in years.

GENERAL OPERATOR EDUCATION AND EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS*
(in years)

Operator Level
Provisional I II III IV
System Type Ed. Op.
Exp.
Ed. Op.
Exp.
Ed. Op.
Exp.
Ed. Op.
Exp.
Ed. Op.
Exp.
Wastewater
Collection
12 ** 12 1 12 3 13 4 13 6
Wastewater
Treatment
12 ** 12 1 12 3 14 4 16 4
Water
Distribution
12 ** 12 1 12 3 13 4 13 6
Water
Treatment
12 ** 12 1 12 3 14 4 16 4

Notes: Required periods of education and experience are reflected in years. Twelve years of education represents high school diploma or general educational development (GED) diploma. The department will waive the minimum education requirement for the provisional level and level 1 in accordance with 18 AAC 74 (e)(6).

*Additional experience and education criteria and substitution requirements are set out in 18 AAC 74(b) - (g).

**Three months of operating experience or the completion of a department-approved training course, as described in 18 AAC 74(c)(1).

Abbreviations: Ed. = Education Op. Exp. = Operator Experience

Certification Process:

An operator may take any level of exam for which he/she meets the eligibility requirements.

  1. Determine which level of examination you may be eligible for.
    1. Minimum education requirement for Provisional level, level I, and level II is a high school diploma or GED. Please see the table above for minimum education requirements for level III and IV certification.
    2. Provisional level:
      1. Three months of operating experience OR,
      2. Completion of a department approved training course is accepted.
        1. Introductory classroom course. Go to the training calendar (http://www.dec.alaska.gov/water/opcert/trainingcalendar.html) to view available courses. The eligible introductory courses are shaded on the training calendar.
        2. Correspondence course. To view the department approved prerequisite correspondence courses go here: http://www.dec.state.ak.us/water/opcert/provprereq.html.
    3. Level I-IV: See table above.
      1. Review all operating experience and postsecondary education requirements.
  2. Application
    1. The "Application for Operator Certification" is available online at http://www.dec.state.ak.us/water/opcert/appforms.htm or by request.
    2. The application must be postmarked by the deadline (http://www.dec.state.ak.us/water/opcert/examdates.htm). Faxed, emailed, or late applications are not accepted.
    3. When completing the application, ensure the "Work Experience" pages are completed accurately and descriptively. Please ensure percentages are inserted in the % time spent blocks. Job duties and system descriptions need to be as accurate as possible.
    4. Incomplete applications will be returned and will delay approval for exams.
    5. If you have submitted applications in the past, please review those applications so there are no discrepancies between the current and past applications.
    6. Please ensure that you have signed the application on page 6 and your supervisor has completed and signed the "Signature of Supervisor" section also on page 6. If you are currently not employed as an operator, a supervisor's signature is not required. Unsigned applications will be returned without review.
  3. Exams
    1. Exams are administered statewide in April and October.
    2. Provisional level exams may also be administered at the conclusion of department approved introductory classroom courses.
    3. Proctored online exams are available at ten university/college testing centers throughout the state of Alaska. More information is available at http://www.dec.state.ak.us/water/opcert/ProctoredOnlineCertExams.htm.
  4. Approval
    1. For the written statewide exams, you will be notified via mail of your eligibility status. Notification will include information regarding the location and time of the exam.
  5. Questions?
    1. Please contact the Operator Certification Program at (907) 465-1139 or via email at dec.opcert@alaska.gov