In Minnesota, wastewater treatment operators – those responsible for the daily, onsite operation of wastewater facilities and collection systems – must be certified. Their class of certification must be equal or higher to the class of the facility. The MPCA administers the certification program and provides workshops and conferences to help you stay up to date on your certification.
Treatment facilities are classified A, B, C, and D according to a rated point system based on the unit processes, loading to the plant, and the permit's final effluent limitations
Type S systems — collection, pumping, and conveyance facilities distinctly separate in operation from treatment facilities — are classified S-A, S-B, S-C, and S-D based on the community's population. Where a type S facility is not distinctly separate, it is considered part of the treatment facility.
- Class S-A: serving a population of 50,000 or more
- Class S-B: serving a population of 15,000 to 49,999
- Class S-C: serving a population of 1,500 to 14,999
- Class S-D: serving a population of less than 1,500
Note: A city manager, superintendent of public works, or other administrator is not considered an operator unless their duties include the day-to-day operation of a wastewater facility.
Wastewater operator training and exams
Find upcoming trainings and exams on the events calendar.
Need to know
Need to know criteria can help wastewater and collection system operators understand the basic skills necessary to operate a system or run a plant.
Wastewater mini sessions
Upcoming online-only training events. No exams. Contact hours: 2 Wastewater.
Collection system basic seminar
Intended for entry level operators or as a refresher for experienced operators. Covers proper operation and maintenance of wastewater collection systems. Topics include inflow/infiltration, lift stations, collection system cleaning, traffic control, safety, collection system math, and more. Exams offered on the last day. Contact hours: 16 Wastewater.
Industrial byproducts workshop
Recommended for Type IV operators that land apply industrial wastes, including food processing, wood ash, industrial wastewater sludge, pretreatment sludge and more. Topics include site suitability, application rates, permitting requirements and waste management. Contact hours: 9 Wastewater. Typically offered every other year, as in-person event and as an online webinar.
One-day pump workshop
Recommended for those who operate, maintain or troubleshoot pumps. Covers pump maintenance, packing, seals, bearings, control panels, troubleshooting, and a hands-on session. No exams. Contact hours: 6. This workshop is only offered as an in-person event.
Stabilization pond seminar
A must for all stabilization pond operators. Covers pond design, operation and maintenance, discharge procedures and calculations, pump calibration, dissolved oxygen and pH meter demonstrations, and troubleshooting. In-person seminars may also include a field trip to a stabilization pond. Exam offered on the last day. Contact hours: 16.
Type IV (land application) basic course
This course is recommended for those who want to become certified as Type IV operator or inspector. Covers site selection, application rates, nitrogen management, reports, field analysis of potential sites, verification of site/soils data, management problems. Exam offered on the last day. Contact hours: 16.
Type IV (land application) refresher course
Recommended for operators and inspectors who need to renew their Type IV certificate or who need a refresher. Reviews land-application management procedures, including all elements of the basic course. No exam. Contact hours (6).
Type V (spray irrigation) basic seminar
Training is offered in partnership with the University of Minnesota. Recommended for entry-level spray irrigation operators or as a review for experienced spray operators. Topics covered include permit certification requirements, goals of land treatment, crop management, loading calculations, operations and monitoring. Exam offered on the last day. Contact hours: 16 Wastewater or 16 Type V.
Type V (spray irrigation) refresher
This one-day refresher is offered in partnership with the University of Minnesota. Recommended for spray irrigation operators who want to review permit certification requirements, essential goals and objectives of land treatment, crop management, loading calculations, operations and monitoring. No exam. Contact hours: 6 Wastewater or 6 Type V.
Wastewater treatment basic
A basic- to intermediate-level course geared toward the proper operation and maintenance of biological wastewater treatment facilities. Covers wastewater terminology, secondary treatment types, wastewater math, sampling process and procedures, reporting, safety and more. This course is intended for entry-level operators or as a refresher for experienced operators. Exam offered on the last day. Contact hours: 16.
Annual Wastewater Operations Conference and Wastewater Collection Systems Conference
The MPCA holds these conference each year in March to offer training and workshops for wastewater treatment and collection system operators. The events also include a vendor tradeshow, plenary sessions, and the ability to earn contacts hours. Most recently, they've been offered as virtual events.
Wastewater training accreditation
If your organization offers wastewater-operations training and would like to be accredited to offer training to Minnesota operators, you must apply to the MPCA. To receive training program approval prior to the course, submit the form to the MPCA at least 60 days before the training event.
Certification exams are given at MPCA training seminars on the last day of class. Eligibility is determined by experience and/or education requirements. Exam applications must be received 15 days prior to the exam along with the exam fee, a description of your job duties, your length of service, name, and supervisor's phone number. If you are substituting educational experience for operating experience, submit a copy of a college diploma or other proof of school attendance or graduation.
All exams are closed book. You will be given a formula book. Bring a non-programmable calculator (no smartphones) and a pencil. A passing grade is 70 out of 100. If you fail the exam, you can retake it after three months. We can identify the topics of incorrect answers upon request, to help you focus your areas of study. You can review your exam, if you submit a request within 60 days of notification of the results.
The agency will notify you if you pass the exam. Then you must submit the $45 certification fee within 90 days to become certified. If you don't submit the fee within 90 days, you must apply for re-examination.
Certificates expire three years after being issued. During that time the following contact training hours must be met for renewal:
- Class A and S-A = 32 hours
- Class B and S-B = 24 hours
- Class C and S-C = 16 hours
- Class D and S-D = 8 hours
- Type IV = 6 hours
- Type V = 6 hours
Forms and resources
US Bank charges a service fee of 2.15% for all credit card transactions or 1.25% for each debit card transaction. A separate non-refundable service fee or flat fee will be displayed on your credit card statement, in addition to the MPCA-charged training fee.
Online registration is not available at this time.
Other training providers
- Minnesota Municipal Utilities Association
- Minnesota Rural Water Assocation
- Minnesota Wastewater Operators Association
- CEU Plan – Water/wastewater treatment online continuing education