CWEA administers competency certifications for wastewater personnel in the vocations of:
- Collection System Maintenance (pdf)
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Maintenance (includes Mechanical Technologists and Electrical Instrumentation)
- Mechanical Technologist
- Laboratory Analysis
- Biosolid Land Application Management
- Environmental Compliance Inspection (pretreatment inspectors)
- Industrial Treatment Plant Operations
The tests are constantly being developed and revised by CWEA member subject matter experts. Tests are given continuously throughout the year in the six specialties, with up to four grade levels per specialty, in California, Michigan, Hawaii, and Missouri and Alaska. Certificates of competence are issued to successful examinees. There are currently 5700 CWEA certificate holders throughout the all five state we service.
The CWEA Certification of Competency Standard
The basic standard of CWEA certification is that all certificate holders have, and continue to perform at a level of basic competence that enables them to perform the Essential Duties of their job safely, effectively, without close supervision, and without further training.
The standard is determined by the following factors:
- Meeting minimum experience and education requirements
- Passing the appropriate CWEA computer-based test.
- Demonstrating continuing competence through education, training, and/or re-testing.
- Continuing to perform the Essential Duties at, or above, the minimal level of competency. described by the basic standard of CWEA certification (see above paragraph). See Code of Ethics for more info.
The CWEA Certification of Competency and Other Certifications
The “certification of competency” means that CWEA attests that its certificate holders have the knowledge skills and abilities to perform at, or above, a level of minimal basic competence (see The CWEA Certification of Competency Standard above). CWEA’s certifications apply to the entire field of knowledge for a given vocation. Other certification programs may only certify that an individual has completed a program of study, not competency. For example, the Cal State Sacramento Office of Water Programs offers certificates of completion of a study course, but not competency (they do not verify work experience or education, or have a secured test of competency).
Be aware of other certification programs that claim to offer a “certificate of competency”, but are really offering certificates of completion of a course of study. Usually these certificates are offered upon completion of a study course or attendance at an educational session. These programs cannot determine the ability of a person to perform their work with at least minimal competence. If you are unsure about a certification program, ask if its a “certificate of competency” and about their test validation methodology.
Who Uses and Requires Certification
Many wastewater jobs require you to be certified. To become a CWEA certified wastewater professional you must meet certain qualifications and pass the computer-based test which tests technical knowledge in the field. In California operators of wastewater treatment plants owned by the public must be certified by the State Water Resources Control Board. Many employers require CWEA certification for certain jobs. Other employers may give salary or promotional incentives for those employees who are certified by CWEA. If you are considering a career in the wastewater field, you should check job announcements and job descriptions to see which certifications, if any, are appropriate.
More Info for Employers:
A CWEA certificate provides wastewater organizations with written confirmation that the holder has demonstrated a high level of job-related knowledge, skills and abilities. It provides a documented level of assurance that employees are competent in safe work practices.
Learn how your organization can benefit from certified employees
CWEA’s Certification Program supporter