Municipal Affairs and Environment

Operator Certification - Questions and Answers

  1. Why should water and wastewater operators be certified?
  2. Who can be certified?
  3. What does Direct Responsible Charge mean?
  4. Who cannot be certified?
  5. Who is the Provincial Certifier?
  6. What are the requirements for certification?
  7. How do I become certified?
  8. What happens to the exam results?
  9. What if I do not pass the exam?
  10. What is the cost of the exam?
  11. I think I can pass a Class III exam. Do I have to pass Class I and II first?
  12. Can I write the Class I and Class II exams at the same time?
  13. What do I have to do to maintain my certification?
  14. Is my certification considered permanent?
  15. What happens to my certification if I am no longer employed as an operator?
  16. What does revoked for cause mean?

1. Why should water and wastewater operators be certified?

Certification demonstrates professionalism, and the achievement of a defined level of competency in the operation and maintenance of water and/or wastewater facilities. Systems operated by certified operators have a better chance to protect public health and the environment, and certified operators are recognized as professionals.

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2. Who can be certified?

Operator certification is for operators. This means those persons who meet the educational and experience requirements and who are currently employed as operators of water treatment plants, water distribution systems, wastewater treatment plants, or wastewater collection systems. As an operator, you are in Direct Responsible Charge (DRC), or perform daily operational and technical requirements to operate and maintain your facility.

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3. What does Direct Responsible Charge mean?

The operator in Direct Responsible Charge is the person who is responsible for, and in active charge of the system or facility. In larger systems with shift operation, DRC means active direction and supervision of a shift, or of a major segment of the facility.

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4. Who cannot be certified?

As a rule, municipal staff and officials such as Mayors, Councilors, Chairpersons, Clerks, Managers, Engineering staff, or Government personnel who are not actively involved in the day-to-day operation of the facility are not considered operators, and cannot be certified. As well, operators who do not qualify in terms of education and/or experience cannot write the exam until such time as they fulfill the requirements.

In instances where the Town Manager, Clerk or other official has a direct day-to-day involvement of the operation of a facility, they can be certified, although this is not the norm.

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5. Who is the Provincial Certifier?

Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment
PO Box 2006
Corner Brook, NL
A2H 6J8
Tel: (709) 637-2035
Fax: (709) 637-2541

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6. What are the requirements for certification?

The requirements for certification include both educational and experiential components, as established by the Association of Boards of Certification. The operator in DRC should be certified in accordance with the Classification of the system he/she operates, or be actively working toward that goal. All operators working at a water treatment facility, or water distribution system should either be certified, or working toward that goal. Any operator who meets the requirements may certify to one Class above the Classification of the system operated. In other words, a qualified operator working at a Class I Water Distribution System may write the Water Distribution Class II exam. See a description of the education and experience required for each class here.

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7. How do I become certified?

If you do not already have an Application for Certification on file, you must complete and submit the form. You can download the form here PDF File (94 KB).

When your application has been reviewed and accepted, an exam will be scheduled in your area as soon as convenient. Exams are generally held in conjunction with Operator Education Seminars.

You must then pass the exam, which consists of 100 multiple choice questions. You have 3 hours to write the exam, and a passing grade is 70%. The exams are provided and marked by the Association of Boards of Certification, and the results returned to the Provincial Certifier.

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8. What happens to the exam results?

The applicant will receive a letter from the Provincial Certifier, at his/her home address, informing of the mark attained on the exam. The employer does not receive this information. If a passing grade was attained, the appropriate certificate will be prepared and mailed to the employer for presentation to the operator.

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9. What if I do not pass the exam?

While adequate preparation will enable most operators to pass, some do not handle the stress of writing an exam for the first time in many years, and do not make the required 70%. In this case, after a 4 month period, the exam can be re-written.

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10. What is the cost of the exam?

The exams currently cost $50.00. This fee applies to exam re-writes as well. The fee covers the cost of the exams and administration.

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11. I think I can pass a Class III exam. Do I have to pass Class I and II first?

Yes – you cannot skip a Class.

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12. Can I write the Class I and Class II exams at the same time?

You must have received a passing mark for Class I before writing Class II, so the two exams cannot be written the same day. As for writing two exams on the same day – for example Water Distribution and Water Treatment, the time allocation for an exam sitting is 3 hours, with no extensions, so it is not recommended that this be attempted.

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13. What do I have to do to maintain my certification?

You must continue to work as an operator, and as specified by the Department of Environment and Conservation in the Permit to Operate, you are required to receive 24 hours of relative training and education annually.

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14. Is my certification considered permanent?

Certification shall be permanent unless replaced by one of a higher class, revoked for cause, or invalidated due to non-employment as an operator.

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15. What happens to my certification if I am no longer employed as an operator?

The certificates of operators who terminate their employment at a water or wastewater facility may be maintained for three years. After three years, the certificates will automatically be invalidated. Operators whose certificates are invalidated may be issued new certificates of like classification provided appropriate proof of competency is presented to the Certifier. Successful completion of an examination may be required.

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16. What does revoked for cause mean?

Certificates shall be valid only as long as the holder uses reasonable care, judgment, and application of his/her knowledge in the performance of duties. No certificate will be valid if obtained by fraud, deceit, or the submission of inaccurate information on application form.

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