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Water System Operators

Information about registration required for water operation companies and licensing for water operators.

Water System Information and Requirements

Water Operator Licensing Overview

State Regulations:

Public water system operators who perform process control duties in production or distribution of drinking water or operations companies that operate public water systems on a contractual basis must be licensed with the TCEQ, unless exempt, and must comply with the requirements in Chapter 290, related to Public Drinking Water

To become licensed as a public water system operator, an applicant must: complete the required course training, meet the required education, meet the required experience, complete the TCEQ application and pay the fee ($111), and pass the applicable exam (minimum score of 70 percent).

Below are the minimum requirements to get a license; however, certain public water systems may require additional training for their employees to be in compliance with permitting requirements.

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Class A Licensing Requirements

Education and Work Experience (three options)

Master's Degree:
  • Education: degree major must be in chemistry, biology, engineering, microbiology, bacteriology, or another similar discipline as approved by the TCEQ Executive Director.
  • Work Experience: four years of "hands-on" experience in public water system operations.
Bachelor's degree:
  • Education: degree major must be in chemistry, biology, engineering, microbiology, bacteriology, or another similar discipline as approved by the TCEQ Executive Director.
  • Work Experience: five years of "hands-on" experience in public water system operations.
High School or General Equivalency Diploma:
  • Education: High School diploma or GED.
  • Work Experience: eight years experience in public water system operations, six of which must be "hands-on".
  • Acceptable Work Experience Substitute
    Applicants with a High School diploma or GED may substitute up to two years of experience with college hours or additional TCEQ approved water operator training.
    • 64 semester hours of college or 80 additional hours of approved training for two years of work experience.
    • 32 semester hours of college or 40 additional hours of approved training for one year of work experience.

Note: For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable towards operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

Training Courses (Water approved training)

  • Core Courses: Surface Water Production I, Surface Water Production II, Groundwater Production, Water Distribution, Water Laboratory, Water Utility Management, and Water Utility Safety.
  • Elective Course: Plus an additional 20 hours of training to meet the 164 hour requirement.

Application and Examination

Complete a TCEQ application ($111) then pass the TCEQ exam. Visit the Exam Schedule and Registration webpage for details.

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Class B Licensing Requirements (Surface, Groundwater, and Distribution)

Education and Work Experience Requirements

Bachelor's Degree:
  • Education: degree major must be in chemistry, biology, engineering, microbiology, bacteriology, or another similar discipline as approved by the TCEQ Executive Director.
  • Work Experience: 2.5 years of "hands-on" experience. At least one half of the work experience must be obtained in the specific field for the license that is requested.
High School or General Equivalency Diploma:
  • Education: High School diploma or GED.
  • Work Experience: five years of work experience, three of which must be "hands-on". At least one half of the work experience must be obtained in the specific field for the license that is requested.
  • Acceptable Work Experience Substitute
    Applicants with a High School diploma or GED may substitute up to two years of experience with college hours or additional TCEQ approved water operator training.
    • 64 semester hours of college or 80 additional hours of approved training for two years of work experience.
    • 32 semester hours of college or 40 additional hours of approved training for one year of work experience.

Note: For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable towards operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

Training Courses (Water approved training)

Class B Surface WaterClass B GroundwaterClass B Distribution

Core

  • Surface Water Production I
  • Surface Water Production II
  • Water Distribution Water
  • Utility Safety Water
  • Water Laboratory
  • Water Utility Management

Electives

  • None

Core

  • Groundwater Production
  • Water Distribution
  • Water Utility Safety
  • Water Laboratory
  • Plus one elective course

Electives

  • Water Utility Management
  • Water Utility Calculations
  • Chlorinator Maintenance
  • Pump and Motor Maintenance
  • Valve and Hydrant Maintenance

Core

  • Water Distribution
  • Water Utility Safety
  • Pump and Motor Maintenance
  • Valve and Hydrant Maintenance
  • Plus one elective course

Electives

  • Water Utility Management
  • Water Utility Calculations
  • Chlorinator Maintenance
  • Water Laboratory

Application and Examination

Complete a TCEQ application ($111) then pass the TCEQ exam. Visit the Exam Schedule and Registration webpage for details.

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Class C Licensing Requirements (Surface, Groundwater, and Distribution)

Education and Work Experience Requirements

  • Education: High School diploma or GED
  • Work Experience: two years of experience, one of which must be "hands-on". At least one half of the work experience must be obtained in the specific field for the license that is requested.
  • Acceptable Work Experience Substitute
    Applicants may substitute up to one year of experience with college hours or additional TCEQ approved water operator training.
    • 32 semester hours of college or 40 additional hours of approved training for one year of work experience
    • 16 semester hours of college or 20 additional hours of approved training for six months of work experience

Note: For laboratory experience to be fully acceptable towards operator licensing, the laboratory must be owned and operated by the public water system and the laboratory personnel must consult on a daily basis with a public water system's licensed operator personnel.

Training Courses (Water approved training)

Class C Surface WaterClass C GroundwaterClass C Distribution

Core

  • Basic Waterworks Operation
  • Surface Water Production I
  • Surface Water Production II

Electives

  • None

Core

  • Basic Waterworks Operation
  • Groundwater Production
  • Plus one elective course

Electives

  • Water Distribution
  • Water Laboratory
  • Water Utility Safety
  • Water Utility Calculations
  • Chlorinator Maintenance
  • Pump and Motor Maintenance
  • Valve and Hydrant Maintenance

Core

  • Basic Waterworks Operation
  • Water Distribution
  • Plus one elective course

Electives

  • Water Laboratory
  • Water Utility Safety
  • Water Utility Calculations
  • Chlorinator Maintenance
  • Pump and Motor Maintenance
  • Valve and Hydrant Maintenance

Application and Examination

Complete a TCEQ application ($111) then pass the TCEQ exam. Visit the Exam Schedule and Registration webpage for details.

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Class D Licensing Requirements

Education and Work Experience

  • Education: High school diploma or GED
  • Work Experience: no work experience requirements

Training Course (Water approved training)

  • Basic Water Operations

Application and Examination

Complete a TCEQ application ($111) then pass the TCEQ exam. Visit the Exam Schedule and Registration webpage for details.

Class D Exceptions

Important informationMost Class D licenses are not renewable. See Continuing Education and Renewal Requirements for details.

An individual who previously held a Class D license shall not apply for a new Class D license if the individual:

  • currently operates facilities at groundwater treatment systems of 250 connections or more;
  • currently operates facilities at groundwater treatment systems serving a population of 750 or more;
  • currently operates facilities at surface water treatment systems;
  • currently operates facilities at groundwater systems under the influence of surface water;
  • performs supervisor, crew chief, or foremen duties for distribution systems that have over 250 connections; or
  • operates multiple groundwater systems and the cumulative number of connections exceeds 250.

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Water Operator Licensing Exemptions

View 30 TAC §30.402 Exit the TCEQ for a full list of all exemptions.

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Unacceptable Experience

Experience will not count for:

  • Support personnel (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system): secretaries, utility relations staff, meter readers, radio dispatchers, and bookkeepers.
  • Administrative officials (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system): mayors, city managers, and utility board members.

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Verify Experience

References may be required with the application for individuals who are involved with routine, on-site operation of a public water system.

The following are NOT ACCEPTABLE references (unless they conduct routine, on-site operational activities for a public water system): secretaries, utility relations staff, meter readers, radio dispatchers, bookkeepers, mayors, city managers, and utility board members.

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Continuing Education and Renewal Requirements

Continuing Education Requirements

All Water Licenses require 30 hours of Continuing Education (CE) to be eligible for renewal. CE hours are given for successful completion of TCEQ approved training courses.

CE hours must be acquired prior to the expiration of the license and may be obtained any time during the validity of the license. A & B water operators may complete a self-attestation form as verification of the completion of the CE requirement for renewal of a license.

Search the License Information webpage to view current CE hours earned.

Renewal Requirements

Occupational licenses are valid for three years then must be renewed with TCEQ. Renewal applicants must have completed the required CE requirements, submit a renewal application and criminal history attestation, and pay the renewal fee. Detailed information can be found on the renewal webpage.

    Important informationWater Operator Renewal Exceptions:

    • Class A and B operators may not apply the "Basic Water" course, or any course that is equivalent to Basic Water, for renewal credit hours.
    • Class D licenses are not renewable for licensed operators:
      • at groundwater treatment systems of 250 connections or more;
      • at groundwater treatment systems serving a population of 750 or more;
      • at surface water treatment systems;
      • at groundwater systems under the influence of surface water;
      • who are supervisors, crew chiefs, or foremen of distribution systems that have over 250 connections; or
      • who operate multiple groundwater systems and the cumulative number of connections exceeds 250.

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    Water System Operating Company Information

    A public water operations company must initially register, and renew every three years, with the TCEQ by submitting a registration form. Refer to the registration form for the new and renewal fee, which is based on the number of public water systems served. If an operations company is bought or sold or a name change occurs, the "new" company must apply for a new registration.

    Governmental entities or quasi-governmental entities, such as river authorities, that contract to operate a public water system must also submit a yearly report.

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