State Water Board Drinking Water Certification

How to Become a Drinking Water Treatment and/or Distribution Operator

Drinking water operator certification is separate from wastewater operator certification. Certification is required to work as an operator in a treatment plant that produces water for human consumption in homes and businesses. The Drinking Water Program, including the Drinking Water Treatment and Distribution System Operator Certification Program, are administered by the State Water Resources Control Board.

To work in a drinking water facility or on a drinking water distribution system owned by a public agency or a private company regulated by the PUC, you must have a valid drinking water treatment and/or distribution operator certificate. There are three major things you must do to get certified:

  1. You must take courses in drinking water operations. The number and difficulty depend on the certificate grade you want.
  2. You must pass a written exam given by the State Water Resources Control Board. Water treatment and distribution certification exams are given four times each year. Exams for all five grades are given at the same time at several locations throughout the state. To take an exam, you must show that you meet the minimum educational requirements and submit a fee and application.
  3. You must meet minimum education or experience requirements and submit a fee and an application for a certificate.

The State of California Office of Operator Certification administers the certification program for drinking water operators.

More Information About Operator Careers:

Educational Resources

For more drinking water operator educational opportunities download the Specialized Training Directory [PDF].


State Water Resources Control Board
Office of Operator Certification

P.O. Box 944212
Sacramento, CA 94244-2120
Attn: Drinking Water OCP
Telephone: (916) 449-5611
Fax: (916) 449-5654

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