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Operator Certification

The purpose of water and wastewater treatment operator certification is to protect public health and welfare and to prevent pollution by classifying all water and wastewater treatment plants, water distribution systems, and public wastewater collection systems, and by establishing a program for the certification of the competency of operators to operate such plants and systems.

The operator certification regulations are in Division 335-10-1.

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Fee Schedule

COVID-19 Update

Throughout all of April and part of March 2020, the PSI Test Centers were closed for about a 7-week period. On May 1, 2020, PSI re-opened six of the seven Alabama Test Centers at 50% testing capacity to accommodate social distancing necessary to keep examinees safe. However, the Test Center situation is very fluid and some of our Test Centers have had periods of recurring shut down since May 1, 2020.

Please be aware that scheduling or re-scheduling a Water or Wastewater Operator Exam will be challenging for the next several months, because we have a backlog of exams resulting from the temporary closure and because the Test Centers are operating only at limited (50%) capacity. Thus, you may experience delays in scheduling your exam. There are two Test Centers in north Alabama (Huntsville and Decatur) and two in south Alabama (both in Mobile). There are also Test Centers in Birmingham - one at 100 Centerview Drive and one at the Lawson State Community College Birmingham West Campus. However, the Lawson State Community College Test Center is still closed due to the COVID-19 crisis. There is only one test center in Montgomery. Thus, at this time, scheduling exams will be more challenging in Birmingham and Montgomery. PSI is presently monitoring Test Center site capacities. PSI is also working with all Test Centers to ensure that they can offer as many exam options as possible, while still taking precautions to protect the health and well-being of exam candidates and Test Center staff. These efforts include plans to expand exam-taking options to 7-days a week and also adding exam options in the evening.

Because of the limited (50%) exam capacity requirement, situations may also arise where PSI has to re-schedule a candidate’s exam. When a PSI-initiated cancellation must happen, PSI will begin rescheduling candidate exam appointments by the most recently scheduled dates, while also prioritizing candidates that have held their appointments the longest.

Due to the fluidity of local state, county, and city restrictions, we have also had Test Centers close on short notice after re-opening. Because of this situation, ADEM advises candidates to review any pending exam appointment communications very closely. Check emails and voicemails routinely to avoid any unnecessary travel to a closed Test Center.

PSI is encouraging the use of its online scheduling system, as it will show the most up-to-date Test Center availability. The link to PSI’s online scheduling system is here: PSI Online Exam Scheduling. If a candidate wishes to call PSI and speak to a customer service representative, please call 833-256-1420. This phone number is a line for ABC clients and exam candidates only. As such, hold times to speak to a PSI customer service representative should be minimal.

To check the latest list of closed PSI Test Centers, please check here: Currently Closed PSI Test Centers

Also, during the COVID-19 crisis, there are some additional Test Center rules that must be followed. Please review the “COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions Document” (see link below). The FAQ document provides information regarding new Test Center rules that must be followed, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Pending Regulation Change

ADEM intends to issue a Revised Division 10 Regulation (Operator Certification Program) early in 2021. We have developed a Preliminary Draft of the new regulation and it is presented below for stakeholder review. We appreciate your feedback and comments as we move forward to develop a formal draft that will go to Public Notice in the months ahead.

Preliminary Draft of Revised Operator Certification Regulation - Revision as of July 20, 2020

The new regulation imposes a revised protocol for establishing the class or “Grade” of a Water and Wastewater treatment plant and also for establishing the class or “Grade” of a Water Distribution System and Wastewater Collection System. The revised protocol is a user-friendly Excel Spreadsheet that itemizes numerical points based on population served, hydraulic flow, and treatment complexity. Referred to as a Ranking Protocol, there is a Ranking Protocol for Drinking Water Plants/Systems and a Ranking Protocol for Wastewater Plants/Systems. The Preliminary Draft Ranking Protocols are in the files below:

Preliminary Water Plant-System Ranking Protocol – Revision as of March 12, 2020
Preliminary Wastewater Plant-System Ranking Protocol – Revision as of March 12, 2020

Utilities and Permittees should go through the relevant Protocol spreadsheets to “rank” each of the their treatment plants and systems to determine the future classification of your treatment plants, collection systems, and distribution systems. Understanding the future ranking of your plants and systems will be important in order to understand how the revised regulation may affect your Utility.

If you have any questions about the Preliminary Draft regulation or about the ranking protocol, please contact Mary Alice Corcoran at:
334-271-7872
maryalice.corcoran@adem.alabama.gov
ADEM is also holding a series of Workshops to discuss the content of the Preliminary Draft Regulation. Information on the Workshops is presented below:

Preliminary Draft Regulation Workshops

Becoming a Certified Public Water System or Public Wastewater System Operator in Alabama

To become a certified Water or Wastewater System Operator, a person must complete a State of Alabama Water & Wastewater Operator Exam Application (Form 505). This form is available on the ADEM web page. An applicant submits the form via regular mail to the address shown on the form. Electronic submittals of Form 505 are not presently accepted by the ADEM. The appropriate exam fee must accompany the exam application that is mailed to ADEM.

The Alabama operator exams are administered at one of the Computer Based Test (CBT) Exam Centers owned and operated by a company called PSI/AMP. (Formerly Applied Measurement Professionals, PSI has acquired AMP.) Once an applicant is approved to take the exam, PSI/AMP will notify the applicant directly by e-mail and by standard mail. Please be sure and provide a valid e-mail address on your Form 505 application so that you will receive prompt notification with directions on how to sign up for a specific exam.

Written exams are no longer administered. The applicant will take an electronic exam given at one of the four PSI/AMP-proctored test centers located around the state.

Upon receiving notification from PSI/AMP, the applicant selects an exam location and registers in advance to take the exam at a specific time. Upon receiving the e-mail notification (or a notification card in the regular mail), the applicant must register to take the exam at the PSI/AMP web site. Click on the following web site to register for your exam:

www.goamp.com

Upon completion of the exam, the applicant will be notified at CBT Exam Center that he or she has passed or failed the exam. If the exam is failed, the applicant may repeat the application and registration process and retake the exam a second time. However, the applicant must re-apply by submitting a new Form 505 to ADEM, along with a new exam fee that must accompany each application submitted to re-take an exam. An applicant may continue to re-take an exam multiple times, However, after the second test failure, the applicant will be required to obtain continuing education classes prior to applying to take the exam for a third time. Contact ADEM’s Operator Certification Program at 334-271-7796 to obtain further information before re-applying for an exam after a second test failure.

When an applicant passes the exam with a grade of 70 or better, the applicant will have earned the title of an "Operator Intern". The test center will provide the applicant with an Operator Intern number. At that point, the intern must pursue attaining his or her minimum Operator Intern experience, as outlined in ADEM’s regulations. The intern must continue to work in a publicly-owned, permitted facility for the length of time listed in ADEM's Chapter 335 Division 10 regulations (335-10-1). When the minimum duration of experience is obtained by the Operator intern, he or she must complete a State of Alabama Water and Wastewater Operator Experience Verification (Form 506). The Form 506 is submitted to ADEM by mail (no electronic submittal accepted), along with the applicable Form 506 fee.

ADEM will evaluate the intern's experience and make a determination. The intern will be notified by mail and, upon approval, ADEM will mail the intern a valid Operator Certificate. Upon passing the examination, an intern has 5 years to obtain the minimum experience required to become certified or the intern must retake the exam for that grade level.

Operator Exam Training

Some of Alabama’s certification exams are prescriptive and some are standardized national exams. Grade I Water, Grade IC Wastewater, Grade IV Water and Grade IV Wastewater exams are standard ABC exams. All other exams are prescriptive exams, which means that the exams are developed by ADEM. ADEM does not endorse or formally approve exam trainers. However, the following entities are familiar with Alabama's exam classification. Links are provided below to providers of exam training:

Alabama Rural Water Association
Birmingham Water Works Board University
Calhoun Community College
Consulting Services of Alabama
Jacksonville State University
Water Girl Consulting

Also, RoyCEU has a series of free practice quizzes that are helpful to test your knowledge and evaluate your exam readiness regarding biological wastewater treatment, chlorination, basic math and several other topics.

The City of Prattville is offering Wastewater Operator Certification exam training for Wastewater grades II, III, and IV at their new training facility in Prattville. The Training will consist of twelve three-hour training sessions (1:00 PM to 4:00 PM) beginning on February 11, 2020 and running through March 26, 2020. Registration for this training must be made by February 1, 2020. A flyer announcement and registration information for this training is found at this link.

Operator Continuing Education Training

Alabama's certified water and wastewater operators are required to take continuing education classes during each three-year certification renewal cycle. During each three year period, operators must attain a minimum number of Continuing Education Hours (CEHs) described in ADEM's Division 10 regulation. The training entities listed above provide classroom-based CEH training.

The following entities provide on-line CEH training. Please be aware that the links below are provided for information purposes only. ADEM does not pre-approve training courses and has no control over the training content or of the posting of any material on these websites. The Department takes no responsibility for the validity of these training services. It is the Operator's responsibility to identify valid CEH classes that are appropriate for the operator's individual level or grade of certification:

Alabama Water Pollution Control Association
Approved Environment, Inc.
At Your Pace Online
AWWA Online Institute
California State University Sacramento
CEU Plan
David H. Paul, Inc.
Jade Learning
NEZAT Training and Consulting (Wastewater Collection System Training)
RoyCEU.com
360Water.com
Wastewater Microbiology Solutions
WaterOperator.org
Zarathom.com

WaterOtter.com

Groundwater and Well Care for Public Water Systems:
  • This free Water Operator Continuing Education and Water Exam Preparation Training is offered by the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with the Rural Community Assistance Partnership and with funding from the U.S. EPA:
  • This 2-hour on-line training is applicable to all Alabama Water Treatment Operators but is primarily geared to Alabama Grade II Water Treatment Operators
  • The Course Syllabus and link to this training is found here


  • Links to Other Operator Training Information

    The following organizations may offer other supplemental training information to Alabama-certified operators and operator exam candidates:

    American Water Works Association
    Environmental Protection Agency
    National Rural Water Association
    Water Environment Federation


    Contact Information

    ADEM
    Attn: Operator Certification
    Post Office Box 301463
    Montgomery, Alabama 36130-1463
    (334) 271-7796
    (334) 271-7796 fax