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Operator Certification (Revised February 2024)

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.

On-Line Renewal
Fee Schedule

COVID-19 Update

At this time, all PSI test centers are open for administering operator exams. Candidates should refer to the PSI web site for Frequently Asked Questions about Covid-19.

PSI COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

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 WPI clients and exam candidates only. As such, hold times to speak to a PSI customer service representative should be minimal.

Pending Regulation Change

ADEM intends to issue a Revised Division 10 Regulation (Operator Certification Program). We are developing an updated version of these proposed changes and they will be posted here when it is ready for review. If you have any questions about the regulations, please contact Bobby Rowland at: 334-279-3071 browland@adem.alabama.gov

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

To become an Alabama-Certified Water or Wastewater System Operator, an applicant must 1) have a High School diploma or GED, 2) pass a standardized exam with a 70% or higher, and 3) attain required experience at a publicly-owned, permitted facility. The Alabama operator exams are Computer Based exams administered at Exam Centers operated by PSI . Please note, an operator candidate may acquire experience at a facility of the same (or higher) grade and classification as the certification pursued, BEFORE taking the exam.

To register for a standardized exam, an applicant must complete a State of Alabama Water & Wastewater Operator Exam Application (Form 505). The application and appropriate exam fee must be mailed to ADEM at the address indicated on Form 505. An Exam Application and fee is also required for Alabama Certified Operators who wish to acquire an additional certification. Checks and money orders MUST include the Applicant’s Name and/or Operator Number. Electronic submittals of Form 505 are not accepted.

Upon receipt of an Exam Application and correct fee, ADEM will review the application. Missing, unlabeled checks or money orders (no applicant name or operator number), or incorrect fee amounts will delay exam application processing. Incomplete or Illegible Form 505s will also delay processing.

Once an applicant is approved by the Department to take an exam, applicant approval will be forwarded to PSI. New applicants will be assigned a number by the Department. This is the number used by PSI and will become your Operator Number, should you meet the criteria to become certified. If you are a Certified Operator submitting an Exam Application, please ensure your Operator Number appears on BOTH the Application Form 505 AND the check or money order.

All approved exam applicants will receive a Registration email from PSI to the email address provided in the Form 505 Application. The PSI registration email will have a link to take the Applicant directly to their registration page. At the registration page, applicants may select the location, date and time for their exam. Incorrect, missing or illegible email addresses on Exam Applications will delay your exam registration process. The exam registration process is managed entirely by PSI.

Upon completion of the exam, the applicant will be notified at the PSI Exam Center whether they have passed the exam. You will not receive additional notification from the Department.

If the exam is failed, the applicant may repeat the application and registration process and retake the exam. However, the applicant must re-apply by submitting a new Form 505 to ADEM, along with a new exam fee. Please include your Operator Number on the application. If you are not yet a Certified Operator, you will still have an assigned number issued when you submitted your first exam application. Please use that number when re-applying.

An applicant may continue to re-take an exam multiple times, however, after the second test failure, the applicant will be required to obtain 8 continuing education hours (CEHs) prior to applying to take the exam for a third time. The CEHs MUST pertain to the exam, for instance Water CEHs for a Water Exam retest; Wastewater CEHs for a Wastewater Exam retest.

If the exam is passed (with a grade of 70 or better), the applicant will not receive any additional notification from the Department. However, the applicant will have earned the title of "Operator Intern" at the level of the exam just passed. For example, an applicant who passes a Grade IV Water Exam will be a “Grade IV Water Operator Intern.”

If the Operator Intern does not already have the required Operator Experience, the Operator Intern may now pursue attaining the minimum experience as outlined in ADEM’s regulations. Experience must be attained at a facility of the same (or higher) grade and classification as the Certification being pursued. For example, a Grade IV Water Operator Intern may now attain experience at a Grade IV Water Treatment facility.

Upon passing an 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.

To become certified at the level of the exam just passed, 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 postal mail (no electronic submittal accepted), along with the applicable Form 506 fee. Missing, unlabeled checks or money orders (no applicant name or operator number), or incorrect fee amounts will delay Experience Verification processing. Incomplete or Illegible Form 506s will also delay processing.

ADEM will evaluate the intern's experience and make a determination. If ADEM has any questions, the Operator Intern will be contacted using information provided on the Form 506. Upon approval, ADEM will mail the intern a valid Operator Certificate and set of Wallet Cards. Wallet Cards must be kept on your person at all times.

If you have any questions, please contact ADEM’s Operator Certification Program at 334-271-7796 to obtain further information.

Operator Exam Training

All of Alabama’s certification exams are standardized national exams created by WPI (Water Professionals International), formerly ABC (The Associated Boards of Certification). WPI maintains a useful webpage of Examination Resources that includes, among many things, links to the Need-to-Know Criteria and Study Guides. Specifically, “Wastewater Treatment Fundamentals” Training Manuals with Operator exam topics and Need-To-Know Criteria are available here.

All of Alabama’s certification exams are standardized national exams administered by PSI. ADEM neither endorses nor formally approves 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
Jacksonville State University
Prattville Pine Creek Learning Center (2024 Course Schedule)
Utility Engineering Consultants, LLC
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.

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)
Wastewater Microbiology Solutions
Water Girl Consulting


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
    Alabama Rural Water Association
    Water Environment Federation

    Contact Information

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