Water and Wastewater Laboratory Technologist

What is a water and wastewater laboratory technologist? Water and wastewater laboratory technologists manage technical processes used for water purification and wastewater disposal. They ensure that these processes are environmentally safe and are compliant with industry standards and methods.

At a Glance

Imagine you're in charge of managing and administering a project to ensure the quality of water at a site near a landfill. You have been inspecting the area to ensure there’s no contamination or discharge into the nearby water.

You’re a water and wastewater technologist ensuring the quality of water in the surrounding area meets certain standards.

As a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you’re responsible for developing plans for monitoring water and wastewater quality. You sample, monitor, test, and analyze water and wastewater according to industry standards.

Testing is done before, during, and after treatment. Water analysis will require efficient use of sampling and monitoring equipment and analytical instruments. Finally, you generate water quality reports based on your analysis of the water data.

You to work in many different environments. You spend time in the field operating equipment used to monitor the water and wastewater. Often, you’re in the lab, analyzing your data and samples. You also spend time in the office managing projects and writing reports. When each day comes to an end, you feel good about ensuring water quality.

Job Duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist:

  • Develop water quality monitoring plans
  • Inspect sites for evidence of discharge into watercourses and for visible contamination near buried tanks, landfill or dumping sites
  • Collect, prepare, and analyze water and wastewater samples before, during, and after treatment using laboratory and field techniques
  • Select appropriate sampling methods that include sampling frequency and location, data capture and analytical equipment, and quality assurance methods
  • Operate and maintain sampling and monitoring equipment and analytical instruments.
  • Interpret water quality data and generate water quality reports
  • Adjust controls to regulate flow into the plant, and monitor its progress through various internal processes
  • Test and adjust chemical feed rates to ensure quality (for disinfection, taste, odour and suppressants)
  • Keep detailed daily records of chemical test results, readings and changes in plant operation
  • Provide input into annual operating budgets
  • Prepare monthly and annual reports
  • Operate computer data acquisition and data control and alarm systems
  • Ensure water or wastewater always meets Environment and Parks standards
  • Deal directly with the public regarding water quality complaints and emergencies
  • Monitor truck dump sites (which may involve sampling and interpreting lab analyses for approval to discharge)
  • Monitor and provide for water demand management during peak flow periods.
  • Operate water distribution and wastewater collection systems as well as treatment systems.

Work Environment

Water and wastewater laboratory technologists work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to:

In the field:

  • Operating field sampling and monitoring equipment and data recorders

In the office:

  • Managing and administering projects
  • Coordinating resources to implement work plans
  • Instructing, training and educating others
  • Writing technical reports

In the lab:

  • Analyzing data and samples
  • Using analytical instrument and techniques to determine the characterization of constituents

Where to Work

Work can be found in several places including:

  • Wastewater or water treatment plants
  • Public sector
  • Mining industry
  • Environmental consulting firms


Search for jobs on the ECO Canada job board.

Education and Skills

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist is a college technical diploma. The following post-secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:

  • Water and wastewater technology
  • Chemical technology
  • Pollution abatement control

Many water and wastewater laboratory technologists have additional training in repairing mechanical and electrical equipment. Most provinces require certification for wastewater collection and treatment operators.

Operator certification has three requirements: education, experience, and a written exam. If you are a high school student considering a career as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you should have a strong interest in:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Biology

There are various certifications required for this role. This includes:

  • Certification in water treatment and distribution (level according to the classification of the plant) is required for water treatment plant operators
  • Drinking water certification is required in Quebec and Ontario for operators whose work involves water treatment and distribution
  • Certification in wastewater collection and wastewater treatment (level according to the classification of the plant) is required for wastewater treatment plant operators.
  • Solid waste, landfill or compost facility operator certification may be required for operators in waste treatment plants
  • Certification in workplace hazardous materials information system (WHMIS), transportation of dangerous goods (TDG), and courses in safety practices may be required
  • Certified Environmental Professional (EP) designation with specialization

It is also important to note that in most cases, on-the-job training is also provided.

Skills

Hard/ Technical Skills (skills obtained through formal education and training programs)

  • Knowledge on how to operate machinery
  • Sample collection
  • Knowledge of environmental legislation

Soft Skills (personal attributes and characteristics)

  • Good health and stamina
  • Manual dexterity
  • Attention to detail

Environmental employers look for professionals who can combine technical knowledge with soft skills. Watch at our free webinar “Essential Not Optional: Skills Needed to Succeed in Canada’s Environmental Industry” or take our Essential Skills courses.

Education and Skills

Your Impact

As a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you’re tasked with taking samples and monitoring treatment to ensure treated water is safe for its intended use.

Depending on the level of treatment, water is used for human consumption or for non-consumptive purposes, such as field irrigation or discharge into natural water sources.

As a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you’re responsible for developing plans for monitoring water and wastewater quality. You sample, monitor, test, and analyze water and wastewater according to industry standards.

Testing is done before, during, and after treatment. Water analysis will require efficient use of sampling and monitoring equipment and analytical instruments. Finally, you generate water quality reports based on your analysis of the water data.

Your work requires you to work in many different environments. You spend time in the field operating equipment used to monitor the water and wastewater. You’re often in the lab, analyzing your data and samples. You also spend time in the office managing projects and writing reports.

When each day comes to an end, you feel good about ensuring water quality.

Occupational Classification

Individuals employed as water and wastewater laboratory technologists may be classified as:

NOC CODE: 9243- Water and Waste Treatment Plant Operators

What is a NOC Code?

The National Occupation Classification (NOC) provides a standardized language for describing the work performed by Canadians in the labour market. It gives statisticians, labour market analysts, career counsellors, employers and individual job seekers a consistent way to collect data, describe and understand the nature of work within different occupations.

The NOC is developed and updated in partnership with Statistics Canada to coincide with the 5- year census cycles. It is based on in-depth occupational research and consultations conducted across Canada, to reflect changes in the Canadian labour market.

The opinions and interpretations in this publication are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Government of Canada.

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