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Why should I become a certified operator?

Wastewater and drinking water system operators are front-line environmental professionals who ensure the quality of Kentucky's water resources and protect the public's health. Only operators that are certified by the Kentucky Certification and Licensing Branch can be in responsible charge of a wastewater or drinking water system.

Working in the water and wastewater industry can be extremely rewarding as you will be providing a critical service to your community. It just might be one of the most important positions in the world since no one can live without water. It takes knowledgeable, conscientious people to deliver clean, potable water and to ensure that wastewater is treated and returned as clean water to the environment.

How do I become a certified operator?

Certification is obtained by meeting minimum education and experience requirements, submitting the appropriate forms and fee and by passing the certification examination. Regulations pertaining to the certification of drinking water and wastewater system operators are located in 401 KAR Chapter 11.

The fact sheets listed below provide general guidance on how to become a certified drinking water and/or wastewater system operator:

How do I apply to become an operator?

Applicants for certification must submit a Registration Form for Exams and Training as well as an Education and Experience Documentation Form. You can apply online or via paper application. Please be advised that there is an additional $50 charge for applications received via mail.

Apply Online:

  • To begin the process, establish a Kentucky Online Gateway account.
  • Launch EEC eForms.
  • Look for the search bar on the forms list. Enter "DCA" in order to sort the forms.
  • Select the Registration Form for Exams and Training and fill it out first. If you select "First test at this level" under the Certification Requested section of the form, the Education and Experience Documentation Form will prepopulate. 
  • Once the application has been completed, select the Continue to Pre-Payment button. You will be directed to pay at this time. 

Paper Application ($50 additional processing fee required):

  • Fill out the Registration Form for Exams and Training as well as the Education and Experience Documentation Form which can be found in the DEP Forms Library.
  • Checks should be made payable to Kentucky State Treasurer. The total should include the exam fee, any class fee as well as the $50 processing fee.
  • Fill out the forms, and mail them along with check or money order to:
DCA Operator Certification Program
300 Sower Blvd.
Frankfort, KY 40601

What are the examination dates?

Once an operator meets the minimum education and experience requirements, he or she may apply to take an examination at any of the certification preparatory courses offered across the Commonwealth or during one of the Frankfort exam events. These dates are located in the current training schedule​.

Reminder: Individuals should not apply to take an examination unless they meet the education and experience requirements at the time the application is submitted.

Are there materials available that will help me prepare for my exam?

Yes, visit our test preparation page to find resources for wastewater and drinking water exams.

Operator-in-Training (OIT) Certification Requirements

Anyone can apply for an entry-level OIT as long as he or she has a high school diploma or equivalent. An individual with an active certification license can apply for an OIT license that is one level higher and of the same type of certification that the individual currently holds. OITs must pass the appropriate operator certification exam and work under the responsible charge of a mentor. To apply for the exam, individuals must submit the following to the Certification and Licensing Branch:

  • Education and Experience Documentation Form
  • Registration Form for Exams and Training
  • Appropriate fee
  • Letter from the applicant's mentor.

The letter from the mentor must include:

  • A commitment to oversee the applicant's work after the applicant becomes an OIT.
  • A commitment to mentor the applicant as long as the applicant is under the mentor's direct responsible charge.
  • Verification that the mentor is not currently mentoring any other OITs.
  • Confirmation that the mentor holds a certification license that is equal to or greater than the certification level required to serve in primary responsibility of the facility where the mentor and prospective OIT works.