ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The United States Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced its adoption of new national guidelines for wastewater systems operator apprenticeship programs. The new guidelines, developed as a joint effort between DOL and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), define minimum educational and on-the-job learning requirements for operators and establish a clear point of entry into the profession.
“The development of these new guidelines has really been a team effort,” said Christine Radke, technical and educational program manager for WEF. “We are delighted that DOL looked to WEF to lead this process, and we could not have seen it to fruition without industry support.”
Water professionals from around the country, including individuals who developed recognized operator apprenticeship standards in South Carolina and Wisconsin, were instrumental to bringing the guidelines to the national level, Radke said.
The National Guidelines for Wastewater Systems Operator Apprenticeship suggests a two-year intensive schedule of 3,520 work process hours and 480 instructional hours. Work process hours will provide on-the-job experience alongside supervisors and coworkers. Industry curriculum is structured around six pillars: orientation and safety, operations, maintenance, quality control, logistics and administration. Additional instruction focuses on the theoretical aspects of the occupation, such as pumping systems, mathematics and solids management.