Wastewater Certification Information

How do I become certified?

You must meet the education and experience requirements set forth in the certification rule (327 IAC 5-22) for a particular classification, and then also do the following:

  • complete an application to sit for the certification exam,
  • pay a $30 application fee,
  • receive IDEM approval to sit for the exam, and
  • pass the exam with a score of 70% or higher

Copies of the certification statute [PDF] and the certification rule [PDF] are available online. The minimum requirements to sit for an exam are: one year of hands-on experience in the operation of wastewater treatment plants and a GED or high school diploma. There is no substitution of education for the one year of experience.

Potential applicants should find everything necessary to apply for the exam and determine the necessary materials needed to study for the exam at this website.

What do I do to take the test?

Wastewater Operator Certification Examinations are offered in computerized form most business days throughout the year at 25 Ivy Tech locations and in paper form annually in October in Indianapolis at the IDEM offices.

There is no deadline for submitting applications for the computerized exams. However, state rule 327 IAC 5-22-11(b)(2) requires that persons submit their application to take the paper exam at least 45 days before the exam is held. However, applicants for the paper exam are encouraged to submit their applications at least 60 days in advance, if at all possible. The date for the annual paper exam is announced on IDEM's web site, in local newspapers and in trade association newsletters.

What is the test like?

IDEM maintains a question bank, or list of all possible questions, from which the 50 questions for the 2 lowest level exams and 100 questions for the other 8 exams are drawn. You have three hours to complete the test once testing begins. This is plenty of time to consider and answer all of the questions.

How do I renew my license?

Your license will expire after two years unless you take action to renew it. You should receive a letter from IDEM informing you that it is time to renew. To maintain certification, and the right to work as a Indiana Certified Wastewater Operator, you need to do the following:

  • Earn continuing education hours. (Ten contact hours equal one continuing education unit or C.E.U.)
    • For each 2-year renewal period, the following continuing education hours are required prior to certification renewal:
      • Class A-SO and I-SP operators need a total of 5 contact hours.
      • Class A, B, I and II operators need a total of 10 contact hours.
      • Class C, D, III and IV operators need a total of 20 contact hours.
    • A minimum of 70% of the required continuing education contact hours must be obtained from the technical category of approved continuing education courses that address technical matters related directly to wastewater treatment plant and sewer system operation, maintenance, management, or supervision.
    • Not more than 30% of the required continuing education contact hours will be credited toward license renewal from nontechnical subject matter of approved continuing education courses that enhance the performance of the certified operator’s responsibilities but are not directly related to wastewater treatment plant and sewer system operations, maintenance, management, or supervision.
  • Submit the completed and signed renewal notice application form on or before the first day of July of the biennial period for which a certification card is to be issued. You may renew your certification license online from May 1 through July.
  • Include the $30 renewal fee.

What is an Apprentice Operator?

In addition to the regular levels of operator classification, 327-IAC 5-22 includes a classification designation of “Wastewater Apprentice”. The Apprentice classification allows persons without the required experience at a wastewater treatment facility to take the same Certification Examination taken by those wishing to obtain certification. The person need only complete the short Apprentice exam form. Having passed the exam might allow an apprentice to more easily get a job in the wastewater industry and acquire the necessary experience to then apply for certification.

What is a Provisional Certificate?

The rule provides for the issuance of a provisional certificate in limited and specific circumstances. IDEM may issue a provisional wastewater operator’s certificate only in the following circumstances:

  1. The governing body or owner of a wastewater treatment plant submits a written request specifying a reason for the need for the provisional certification, including one of the following:
    1. To fill a vacancy created by death.
    2. Resignation of the certified operator in responsible charge.
    3. Extended illness of the certified operator in responsible charge.
    4. Suspension or revocation of the certification of the operator in responsible charge.
    5. Similar cause as determined by the commissioner.
  2. The written request provides the:
    1. name;
    2. education; and
    3. experience;
    of the person for whom the provisional certificate is requested.
  3. The provisional certificate nominee submits, simultaneously an application requesting examination and certification.
  4. The provisional certificate nominee currently meets the educational and experience requirements for the appropriate class of certification.

Once all of these conditions are met, IDEM may then issue a provisional certificate for up to one year. A provisional certificate may not be renewed, nor will a second provisional certificate be granted to the same facility.

How does IDEM review an application?

When applications are received they are reviewed to determine whether the applicant has the educational level and experience necessary to qualify for one of the ten levels of classification. Applicants must denote which of the ten exams they wish to take, but also may indicate their interest in taking a lower level exam in the event they do not qualify to sit for the exam for which they initially applied.

Note: These qualifications do not apply to those wishing to take the exam as an apprentice. Applicants who qualify will be sent an eligibility letter with the assigned test location and time. Letters are also sent to applicants who do not qualify to take the upcoming exam. Approximately 6 to 8% of applicants are ineligible for the exam. Such agency decisions of ineligibility of the applicant to sit for an exam may be appealed.

State rule 327 IAC 5-22-11(e)(2) allows IDEM a period of no more than two (2) months after the exam to notify the applicant of their examination results. Seventy percent is a passing score, and whether an applicant passes or fails is public information. Individual scores are confidential. IDEM maintains a question bank, or list of all possible questions, from which the 50 questions for 2 exams and 100 questions for the other 8 exams are drawn.

What happens after I take the test?

State rule 327 IAC 5-22-11(e)(2) allows IDEM a period of no more than two months after the exam to notify the applicant of their examination results. Those taking the exam at Ivy Tech will be given their preliminary score before leaving the exam area. Seventy percent is a passing score, and whether an applicant passes or fails is public information. Individual scores are confidential. You will be notified in writing of your official test results. If you achieved a passing score, your certificate and card will be mailed to you.

What about training courses?

IDEM strongly encourages anyone planning to sit for one of the exams to take a training course, and to thoroughly study all of the recommended materials. It will be on the test.

What books should I study?

What is the certification exam like?

Where can I find training providers?