Water/Wastewater Treatment Operator Kaiwhakamahi Whakapai Wai (Paru)

Water/wastewater treatment operators run water and wastewater treatment plants. They treat water so that it is acceptable to drink. They also control the disposal of sewage and industrial wastewater.

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Water/wastewater treatment operators may do some or all of the following:

  • monitor the water treatment process and make adjustments
  • collect, analyse and interpret water or wastewater samples
  • maintain, operate, repair and replace water or wastewater treatment equipment as necessary
  • maintain treatment plant grounds and buildings
  • check treatment chemical supplies and order new supplies as required
  • write reports and logs.

Physical Requirements

Water/wastewater treatment operators need to be reasonably fit as they have to walk around large treatment plants.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for water/wastewater treatment operators includes laboratory work and work in a trade such as:

  • plumbing
  • engineering
  • electrical
  • maintenance diagnostics
  • electronics.

Personal Qualities

Water/wastewater treatment operators need to be:

  • mature, responsible and safety-conscious
  • reliable, punctual and motivated
  • practical and adaptable
  • problem solvers
  • good at basic maths.


Water/waste water treatment operators need to have:

  • knowledge of water or wastewater treatment processes
  • understanding of how water or wastewater treatment equipment operates, including how pumps work
  • understanding of how to take equipment apart and put it back together
  • knowledge of the basic chemistry of water, and of chemicals used to treat water
  • knowledge of drinking water standards and regulations.


Water/wastewater treatment operators:

  • usually work regular business hours, but may also work weekends and be on call
  • work inside and outside at water or wastewater treatment plants
  • work in most weather conditions and in conditions that may be noisy and smelly
  • may travel locally between treatment plants to monitor and maintain them.

Water/Wastewater Treatment Operators can earn around $47K-$70K per year.

Pay for water/wastewater treatment operators varies depending on skills, experience and the size of the organisation they work for.

  • Water/wastewater treatment operators with up to two years' experience can earn between $47000 and $70,000 a year.
  • Water/wastewater treatment operators with two to 10 years' experience usually earn between $50,000 and $110,000.
  • Water/wastewater treatment operators who work as team leaders or managers usually earn between $70,000 and $130,000.

Source: Connexis, 2018.

Water/wastewater treatment operators may move into supervisory or managerial roles with further training.

Water/wastewater treatment operators specialise as either:

Water treatment plant operators
Water treatment plant operators treat water to be used for household consumption.
Wastewater treatment plant operators
Wastewater treatment plant operators treat and oversee the disposal of waste water.

Years Of Training

2 years of training required.

To become a water/wastewater treatment operator you need to complete an apprenticeship and gain a New Zealand Certificate in Water Treatment (Level 4).

Industry training organisation Connexis oversees apprenticeships and on-the-job training.

Additional requirements preferred by some employers

Besides the New Zealand Certificate in Water Treatment, some employers prefer you to have one of the following:

  • A degree in science or engineering.
  • A trade qualification in fitting and turning or electrical work.
Water/Wastewater Treatment Operator