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Wastewater Operators

Licensing information for wastewater operators and registration information for wastewater treatment plants and wastewater collection systems.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) promulgated new and revised rules on September 27, 2007 which will affect many licensing programs.

Please review the URL below to become acquainted with the newly adopted Chapter 30 rules for Texas Administrative Code (TAC) Chapter 30, Subchapter J: Wastewater Operators and Operations Companies, Rules 30.331 - 30.355. Exit the TCEQ 

Some documents linked from this page are in Portable Document Format (PDF). (Help with PDF.) 

Wastewater Licensing Program

Wastewater Licensing Program personnel can answer routine operator inquiries and questions about application review. Below is the phone number and other means of contacting the program.

  • Location—The first floor in building D of the TCEQ complex located at 12100 Park 35 Circle in Austin.
  • Office Hours—8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday (excluding holidays Exit the TCEQ).
  • Phone number—512/239-6133
    • Press #1 for New Applications or Exams
    • Press #2 for Renewals
  • Fax—512-239-6272
  • Email address—licenses@tceq.texas.gov
  • Mailing Address—TCEQ, Wastewater Operator Licensing Program, MC 178, TCEQ, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087

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Wastewater Treatment Facility Operations Companies

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Who must register?

If you are an individual, company, business, or any other nongovernmental organization and you contract to operate one or more domestic wastewater treatment facilities or collection systems, you are required to be registered with the TCEQ. If an operations company is bought or sold or a name change occurs, the "new" company must apply for a new registration.

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How does an operations company register with the TCEQ?

Submit the registration form (PDF) with the required information and appropriate fee listed below.

Number of Facilities ServedNew and Renewal FeesValidity Period
0–4 $122 3 Years
5–9 $240 3 Years
10–19 $399 3 Years
20 or More $636 3 Years

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How often must an operations company report to the TCEQ?

When a wastewater operations company submits an application to obtain or renew a registration, it must submit a report to the executive director. For each wastewater treatment facility or wastewater collection system the report shall include:

  • the operations company name, location, and mailing address;
  • the permittee's name and mailing addresses;
  • the commission permit number, if applicable;
  • the dates of operation during the registration validity period;
  • the names and license numbers of all licensed operators employed by the operations company;
  • the name of the licensed chief operator for each facility; and
  • any additional information required by the executive director.

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Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators

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Why do I need a wastewater treatment operator license?

The law requires it. (30 TAC 30.331 Exit the TCEQ)

Each category of facility must be operated for a minimum of five days per week by the licensed chief operator or an operator holding a license at the required level or higher; this operator must be available by telephone or pager seven days per week. The minimum license level for the chief operator depends on the category of the wastewater treatment facility.

The amount of time to be spent at the plant each day is not specified in the rules.

Further, each person engaged in the direct supervision of domestic wastewater collection system operation or maintenance crews is required to be either a licensed wastewater collection system operator or a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator. At least one collection supervisor must hold a license class equal to or higher than is required for that category of collection system.

MGD = Million gallons per day


Wastewater Treatment Facility Categories
Treatment System1Permitted Daily Average FlowCategory2Minimum Chief Operator Level3
No-Discharge Treatment Systems All flows with a disposal system other than a subsurface area drip dispersal system D4 D
All flows with subsurface area drip dispersal systems C C
Pond Systems Preceded by Imhoff Tanks, Primary Clarifiers, or Facultative Lagoons 1.0 MGD or less D4 D
Greater than 1.0 MGD C C
Activated Sludge (Extended Aeration Mode) and Oxidation Ditch Systems 0.10 MGD or less D4 D
Greater than 0.10 MGD to 1.0 MGD C C
Greater than 1.0 MGD to 10.0 MGD B B
Greater than 10.0 MGD A A
Activated Sludge (Modes Other Than Extended Aeration) 0.050 MGD or less D4 D
Greater than 0.050 MGD to 1.0 MGD C C
Greater than 1.0 MGD to 10.0 MGD B B
Greater than 10.0 MGD A A
Trickling Filter, Rotating Biological Contactor (RBC), or Other Fixed Film Processes 0.50 MGD or less D4 D
Greater than 0.50 MGD to 2.0 MGD C C
Greater than 2.0 MGD to 10.0 MGD B B
Greater than 10.0 MGD A A
1 A wastewater treatment facility having a combination of treatment processes that are in different categories will be assigned the higher category.

2 The executive director may increase the treatment-facility category for facilities that include unusually complex processes or present unusual operation or maintenance conditions.

3 Where shift operation is necessary, each shift that does not have the on-site supervision of the chief operator must be supervised by an operator in responsible charge who is licensed at not less than one level below the category of the facility.

4 Category D wastewater treatment facilities will be reclassified as Category C facilities if any of the following conditions exist:
  • the facility incorporates anaerobic sludge digestion, except Imhoff tanks with sludge drawn off to drying beds;
  • the facility permits nutrient reduction; or
  • the facility permit requires the final effluent to meet a daily (five-day) average biochemical oxygen demand or total suspended solids concentration less than 10 mg/L.

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How do I become licensed as a wastewater treatment plant operator?

To become licensed as a wastewater treatment plant operator, you must have the required education and experience, complete the related training, pay an application fee, and pass an exam. More information about taking this exam can be found under computer-based testing and general exam schedule.

GED = General Equivalency Diploma
HS = High School Diploma

To obtain this license class ...If you have this much education ...You need this many years of experience3 ...You need this much initial training credit4 ...You must pay an application fee of ...This license remains valid for ...
A Master's Degree2
Bachelor's Degree2
HS or GED
4 Years (0)*
5 Years (0)*
8 Years (2)*
160 Hours $111 3 Years
B Bachelor’s Degree2
HS or GED
2.5 Years (0)*
5 Years (2)*
100 Hours $111 3 Years
C HS or GED 2 Years (1)* 60 Hours $111 3 Years
D1 HS or GED None 20 hours $111 3 Years
1 If you operate any activated sludge–type treatment facility of any size, any trickling filter or RBC facility with a permitted average daily flow of 100,000 gallons per day or greater or a facility that uses a subsurface area drip dispersal system for effluent disposal you cannot renew your Class D license.

2
Only college graduates with a major in chemistry, biology, engineering,microbiology, bacteriology, or another similar discipline as approved by the executive director.

332 semester hours of college or an additional 40 hours of wastewater training may be substituted for one year of experience.

16 semester hours of college or an additional 20 hours of wastewater training may be substituted for six months of experience.

* The number in parentheses is the maximum number of years permitted for experience substitution.

4Training credit—List of training courses that are required (R) and elective (E) for each class of wastewater licensing.

Note: Class D and Class I licenses issued after 01/01/2008 will have a license term of three (3) years; application fee will be $111; CEUs required for renewal will be 30.

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What type of training must I complete for a wastewater treatment operator license?

Required and elective courses are available as classroom training, on-line training, and correspondence training. Review the table below the next paragraph, and then you can find approved providers for the course(s) you need to take using the web page at:

Wastewater Operator Courses and Providers

The courses listed in the table below are 20-hour courses, except Intermediate Wastewater Laboratory, which is a 32-hour course and Wastewater Technology, which is a 40 hour course. These courses may also be applied toward credit hours for renewal, except for the Basic Wastewater Operations course, which will not apply toward renewal credit hours for Class A and Class B operators.

R = Required
E = Elective*
N/R = Not Required as initial training requirement

Training CourseLicense Class Level
ABCD
Advanced Management E N/R N/R N/R
Basic Wastewater Operations N/R N/R R R
Wastewater Treatment R R R N/R
Wastewater Collection R R E N/R
Wastewater Laboratory R R E N/R
Water Utility Safety R R E N/R
Water Utility Calculations E E E N/R
Water Utility Management† R E N/R N/R
Intermediate Wastewater Laboratory E E N/R N/R
Wastewater Technology
(40 hours)
E N/R N/R N/R
* For the Class A, B, and C licenses, the applicant must take at least one elective course shown in that column.

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What do I need to know about an application?

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Where can I obtain an application?

Applications are available through the TCEQ’s program for wastewater operator licensing in the Austin central office or at any TCEQ Regional Office. The application must be completed in full, signed, dated, and submitted with the appropriate application fee (check or money order only). All fees are nonrefundable.

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What do I need to supply along with an application?

In addition to the standard information (name, address, Social Security number, training, and employment), you may need to submit, if requested, supporting documentation such as:

  • certificate of completion for correspondence courses
  • certificate of completion for unverified training
  • college transcripts used to substitute experience
  • copy of current out-of-state license (if applying for reciprocity)

All statements and qualifications provided by each applicant are subject to verification.

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When do I pay the application fee?

You must pay the application fee when you arrive to take the exam except for a Class A license. The application fee is valid for one year or four exams, whichever comes first.

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If I qualify for a higher-level license, must I apply for all levels first?

No, it is not necessary to apply for a lower-level license if you satisfy the requirements for a higher level. However, to apply for licensing as a Class A Wastewater Treatment Plant Operator, you must be pre-approved after submitting your application and fee to the Austin central office before taking the exam.

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What do I need to know for an exam?

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What does the exam cover?

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What do I need to study?

Study materials for each type and license level include:

  • training manuals for the corresponding required training courses,
  • the rules Exit the TCEQ regulating licensing of wastewater system personnel, and
  • the rules regulating the operation of public wastewater treatment or collection systems.

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What are the special considerations for Class A operator exams?

Class A exams must be scheduled by the applicant through the Austin central office after the application has been approved. Class A exams are conducted in the Austin central office or at the TWUA’s Exit the TCEQ annual school and regional schools.

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Where and when are exams held?

Exams are regularly scheduled and administered in the Austin Central Office and TCEQ regional offices in accordance with an established exam schedule.

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What is the minimum passing score?

All applicants for licensing, except individuals applying for licensing by reciprocity, must pass the appropriate exam with a minimum score of 70 percent. Applicants will be mailed their examination results and an analysis within 45 days after the exam is administered.

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If I fail the test, how many times may I retake it?

You may retake the test a maximum of three times within one year of the original examination date. To retest, you must wait a minimum of 60 days after the failed examination and you must present your exam analysis to program personnel at the exam site as proof of eligibility to retest. After the fourth unsuccessful test in the one-year period, you will need to submit a new application and fee.

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How long do I have to retake the test?

You must retake the test within one year of the original exam date. After the year has expired, you will need to submit a new application and fee.

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What is acceptable experience?

One-half of the experience requirement for the Class A, B, and C levels of wastewater treatment plant operator must be in actual wastewater treatment plant operation or maintenance, or performance of on-site wastewater laboratory duties.

Related experience, which involves tasks similar to those required for operation of wastewater treatment facilities, will count at a rate of 50% toward meeting the total experience requirement.

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What if my experience is deficient?

Applicants who are deficient in experience after an initial review by the staff may be asked to submit supplemental information for consideration if the staff determines that the original application did not contain all relevant information. The applicant must submit this information within 120 days of notification of deficiency, or the examination and application will become invalid. Application fees are not refundable.

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If I hold a license in another state, can I transfer it to Texas?

Texas issues licenses case by case reciprocally with other state or national programs.

To be considered for reciprocity:

  • You must hold a current license,
  • your license must have been obtained by exam,
  • the license must be mandatory under the other state or country’s laws, and
  • the experience and educational requirements in that state or country must be at least as stringent as those in Texas. Your experience is not taken into consideration—only the other state or country’s requirements.

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How do I renew my wastewater treatment operator license?

You will be mailed a renewal notification to the last known address on file at least 60 days before your license expires. Provided we have your email address, you will also received a email notification 90 days before your license expires. This notification will give you instructions for renewing your license using Texas Online license renewal process.

If you are unable to renew on-line, please contact our office immediately to receive a printed renewal application. You can contact the TCEQ Licensing Section at licenses@tceq.texas.gov or phone (512) 239-6133. Please be sure to include your full name and license number with your request. Remember, it is your responsibility to timely submit a renewal application.

You may renew your operator license, provided it has not been revoked or replaced by a higher class of license. You must renew using the Texas Online license renewal process or submit a completed application and pay the appropriate fee within 30 days of the license’s expiration date. Additionally, you must have completed the appropriate number of continuing education training credit hours (10 hours for each year the license has been in effect) during the life of the license. A & B wastewater operators may complete a self-attestation form as verification they completed the continuing education requirement for renewal of their license.

Credit is given for attendance at TCEQ-approved training courses, on-line and correspondence courses, seminars, and association meetings on the basis of one credit hour per hour of attendance.

You may take the appropriate licensing exam in lieu of completing the continuing education training.

Check how many credit hours you currently have on file

To renew this license class ...You must obtain this much continuing education ...You must pay a renewal fee of ...The license will remain valid for an additional ...
A 30 Hours1 $111 3 Years
B 30 Hours1 $111 3 Years
C 30 Hours $111 3 Years
D2 30 Hours $111 3 Years
1 Class A or B operators may not use the Basic Wastewater Operation course for renewal credit hours.

2 If you operate any activated sludge–type treatment facility of any size, any trickling filter or RBC facility with a permitted average daily flow of 100,000 gallons per day or greater, or wastewater facility that disposes of treated effluent through a subsurface area drip dispersal system, you cannot renew your Class D license.

The agency mails renewal notifications to the operator’s address on file. The TCEQ is not responsible for undelivered mail.

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I lost my license or pocket card. How do I replace it?

To replace your lost license, you can contact the licensing section at (512) 239-6133 or download the request form. The replacement license is $20.00. Be certain to specify if you are ordering a wall certificate or pocket card (license card).

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What are some of my responsibilities to the TCEQ?

The individual is responsible for:

  • Notifying the Austin central office of any address or employment changes;
  • Maintaining personal training records, including:
    • name of class,
    • location,
    • name of provider, and
    • date of training.

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Wastewater Collection System Operators

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Why would I need a wastewater collection system license?

The law requires it. (30 TAC 30.331 Exit the TCEQ)

Each person who directly supervises wastewater collection system operation or maintenance crews is required to be either a licensed wastewater collection system operator or a licensed wastewater treatment plant operator. At least one collection supervisor must hold a license class equal to or higher than that category of collection system. All other supervisors must hold a valid license.

GPD = Gallons per day
MGD = Million gallons per day

Wastewater Collection System Categories
Collection SystemDaily Average FlowMinimum License Class Required
Category I Less than 100,000 GPD I (collection) or
D (treatment)
Category II 100,000 gpd to 1 MGD II (collection) or
C (treatment)
Category III Greater than 1.0 MGD III (collection) or
B (treatment)

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How do I obtain a wastewater collection system license?

To obtain a wastewater collection system operator license, you must have the required education and experience, complete the related training, pay an application fee, and pass an exam. More information about taking this exam can be found under computer-based testing and general exam schedule.

GED = General Equivalency Diploma
HS = High School Diploma

To obtain this license class ...If you have this much education ...You need this many years of experience2 ...You need this much initial training credit3 ...You must pay an application fee of ...This license remains valid for ...
III Bachelor’s Degree1
HS or GED
2.5 Years (0)*
5 Years (2)*
100 Hours $111 3 Years
II HS or GED 2 Years (1)* 60 Hours $111 3 Years
I HS or GED None 20 Hours $111 3 Years
1 Only college degrees with a major in an engineering discipline eligible for registration as a professional engineer in Texas or in chemistry, biology, bacteriology, or similar disciplines.

232 semester hours of college or an additional 40 hours of wastewater training may be substituted for one year of experience.
16 semester hours of college or an additional 20 hours of wastewater training may be substituted for six months of experience.

* The number in parentheses is the maximum number of years permitted for experience substitution.

3Training creditList of training courses that are required (R) and elective (E) for each class of wastewater license.

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What type of training must I complete for a wastewater collection system license?

All courses listed below are 20-hour courses. These training courses may also be applied towards renewal credit hours.

R = Required
E = Elective*
N/R = Not Required as initial training requirement

Training CourseLicense Class
IIIIII
Basic Wastewater Operations R R N/R
Wastewater Collection R R R
Water Utility Safety R E N/R
Water Utility Calculations E N/R N/R
Water Utility Management E N/R N/R
Pump & Motor Maintenance R E N/R
Pretreatment Facility Inspection E N/R N/R
Intermediate Wastewater Laboratory E N/R N/R
* For the Class III and II licenses, the applicant must take at least one elective course shown in that column.

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What is acceptable wastewater collection system experience?

The experience requirement for Class II and Class III levels of wastewater collection system operator must be in actual collection system operation or maintenance duties.

Credit for related experience not directly connected with collection system operation or maintenance may be approved at a reduced rate.

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How do I renew my wastewater collection license?

You will be mailed a renewal notification to the last known address on file at least 60 days before your license expires. Provided we have your email address, you will also received a email notification 90 days before your license expires. This notification will give you instructions for renewing your license using Texas Online license renewal process.

If you are unable to renew on-line, please contact our office immediately to receive a printed renewal application. You can contact the TCEQ Licensing Section at licenses@tceq.texas.gov or by phone at (512) 239-0170. Please be sure to include your full name and license number with your request. Remember, it is your responsibility to timely submit a renewal application.

You may renew your operator license, provided it has not been revoked or replaced by a higher class of license. You must renew using the Texas Online license renewal process or submit a completed application and pay the appropriate fee within 30 days of the license’s expiration date. Additionally, you must have completed the appropriate number of continuing education training credit hours (10 hours for each year the license has been in effect) during the life of the license. For wastewater operators, this would equal 30 CEUs for a three year license. A & B wastewater operators may complete a self-attestation form as verification they completed the continuing education requirement for renewal of their license.

Credit is given for attendance at TCEQ-approved training courses, on-line and correspondence courses, seminars, and association meetings on the basis of one credit hour per hour of attendance.

You may take the appropriate licensing exam in lieu of the continuing education training.

To renew this license class ...You must obtain this much continuing education ...You must pay a renewal fee of ...The license will remain valid for an additional ...
III 30 Hours $111 3 Years
II 30 Hours $111 3 Years
I 30 Hours $111 3 Years Effective 01/01/2008

A Renewal Notification is mailed to the license holder’s address on file. The TCEQ is not responsible for undelivered mail.

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