Utah Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

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DWQ Home > Certification > Becoming Certified

Utah Wastewater Operator Certification Program:
Becoming a Certified Wastewater Operator in Utah

In March 1991, following 20 plus years of a voluntary certification program, certification of wastewater works operators became mandatory. This booklet is compiled in an effort to answer questions most often asked by operators and is a supplement to the Rule for Certification of Wastewater Works Operators (R317-10). If you would like a copy of the Rule or if you have questions not answered by this booklet, please contact:

Wastewater Operator Certification Program
DEQ/Division of Water Quality
PO Box 144870
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870

801-536-4344 or 801-536-4300

Located in the Multi Agency State Office Building
DEQ 3rd Floor
195 North 1950 West
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116

Eligibility for Wastewater Operator Certification

To obtain regular certification, an operator must:

Not every operator is required to be certified under the mandatory certification law. Chief operators and supervisors who make process decisions for the system and are designated to be in direct responsible charge must be certified at the level of the facility classification. All other operators in direct responsible charge must be certified at no less than one grade lower than the facility classification or at the lowest possible classification in the case of grade I facilities.


Facility classifications are specified in the rules (Utah Administrative Code R317-10) and are too lengthy to include here. However, for collection and wastewater treatment operators there are four (4) grades that correspond to the facility classification. In addition, for operators of small lagoon systems, who usually maintain both the Class I lagoon and the Class I collection system, there is only one (1) grade that combines treatment and collection. If the system changes classifications, operators are required to obtain certifications corresponding to the new classification.

Direct responsible charge (DRC) as defined in the rule, means "active on-site charge and performance of operation duties." Generally, direct responsible charge is taken by the chief operator or shift supervisors; however a night shift operator or one who works as the sole operator will also have direct responsible charge of the system as they independently make decisions affecting system processes.

Restricted certificate means a certificate issued when an operator passes a certification exam, but doesn't meet all the other requirements (experience or education) to be certified at that grade.

Education Requirements

Certification Examination

Applying for the Examination

Examinations are usually given in Spring and Fall.

Call or write the Wastewater Operator Certification Program at the phone number, address, or web site listed at the beginning of this booklet. An application will be sent to you.

Complete the application and return it with a completed Citizenship/Alien ID Certification form, along with the fee to the same address. After your application has been processed, it will be placed on file. Check the Web site or call our office to verify your registration.


If for some reason you cannot take the exam, you may cancel your application before the application deadline and receive a refund of the exam fee or reschedule for the next exam date. After the deadline, no fees will be refunded unless another person is able to take your place for that exam.

Should you fail the exam, you may come into the Division of Water Quality offices at 195 North 1950 West, Salt Lake City, to review your test within 30 days. You need to make an appointment. You may challenge any exam question, but individual scores will not be changed. However, if an error has been made in grading the exam, everyone who correctly responded to incorrectly graded questions will be given credit. In addition, every effort will be made to work with the testing agency to improve poorly worded questions for the next exam.

Examination Fees

Fees are charged for the examination, but only to cover the cost of the testing service. The cost is specified on the application form.

Special Cases

Some operators know how to operate a plant but have difficulty passing a written exam. In certain instances the Certification Council will allow an oral examination.


Anyone may take any examination. However, the operator will not be qualified as a certified operator until all the conditions of the certificate are met. In other words, a “restricted” certificate will be issued.

Reciprocal Certification

If you are certified in another state, planning on working in Utah, a person legally residing in the United States, and would like to be certified, print, call or write to request an application stating your situation. If the other state has equivalent standards to Utah, the Certification Council may grant you certification after reviewing your application. A fee will be charged for your certificate by reciprocity. Detailed Instructions

If you are working in another state at the time of application and your application is approved, you will be sent a letter of intent to issue a certificate by reciprocity. When you begin working in Utah, provide proof of your employment to our office along with a copy of your current valid certificate from the other state, and you will be issued the certificate


Certificates are issued for the following categories:

Certificate Renewal

Certificates are valid for up to three years and must be renewed by December 31 of the year they expire. A renewal notice will be sent to you approximately two months prior, but if you don't receive one please call the Wastewater Certification Program. You are responsible for renewing your certificate.

In order to renew your certificate you must:

Certificate Reinstatement

Expired certificates may be reinstated within one year following its expiration. In order to reinstate your expired certificate you must:

Certificate Upgrade

If you would like to upgrade your certificate, all you need to do is call our office (or print from the web site) for an examination application, complete it and send it back with the appropriate fee. Once you verify the test date and time you just need to—TAKE ANOTHER TEST!

Change of Status—Restricted to Unrestricted

If you were issued a “restricted” certificate, but now meet all the education and/or experience requirements for your particular certification, you may submit a completed application, along with the appropriate fee, and an “unrestricted” certificate will be issued.

Keep in Touch

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Complete Booklet (PDF formatted for double-sided printing)

New National Guidelines for Apprenticeship Standards—Water Environment Federation—Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator

Contact Information

Office Hours: 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday

Mail us:

Wastewater Operator Certification
Division of Water Quality
P.O. Box 144870
Salt Lake City, Utah 84114-4870

Visit us:

Division of Water Quality
Multi Agency State Office Building
195 North 1950 West, DEQ 3rd Floor
Salt Lake City, Utah 84116