Our business is unconventional – and that works for a lot of our employees
We get it. Any of us who work here at King County’s Wastewater Treatment Division (WTD) have been asked what we do for a living – and we’ve seen the smirks and heard the giggles when we explain we help run the region’s sewer utility.
Most of us did not seek out a career in wastewater, but many of us were pleasantly surprised when we found one. The people who operate our treatment plants and build our projects say things like…
- “I like that my job is more than just working in an office.”
- “I was hooked on the first treatment plant tour.”
- “I love the water, and why not be a part of protecting it?”
Operators work hands-on, out at our treatment plants
Operators watch over large and complex industrial equipment and the flows going through them – from both on-the-ground and from computer monitoring systems. They check readings and take water samples to make sure things are running smoothly – trouble-shooting when necessary. They often work as part of a crew, as well as with a larger team of mechanics, electricians, instrument technicians and lab process analysts at our five treatment plants and throughout our large system.
Good operators are hard to find – and desperately needed
Utilities around the country don’t have the operators they need because of retirements – but are finding it tough to find people to fill the jobs for two big reasons;
- Operators have special knowledge, unique skills, and have to be certified – which is a process that can take years;
- Job-seekers out there don’t know these careers exist or how to become an operator.
Our utility needed a way to bring in talented, new people and help them get certified as quickly as possible. So we started an Operator-in-Training (OIT) program to find and train our own operators.
We will help you figure out if you like wastewater – and we’ll train you
“Part of our program is to show people enough about wastewater for them to decide for themselves if it is the job for them,” says Denise Chanez, OIT training program coordinator.
You don’t need a college degree. In fact, you don’t need to have any experience in wastewater.
We teach OITs safe, practical ways to operate and maintain a treatment plant, the roles and responsibilities of an operator and their team, why waste must be treated, and details of the equipment and processes. Then they work side-by-side with certified operators, learning on the job, through hands on training.
“Not only are they mentored by our current operators, we hire a whole class of recruits at one time each year,” explains Jim Pitts, OIT training program coordinator. “It’s an efficient way to train people, but even better, the group builds a comradery because they’re going through everything together.”
As OITs learn and develop, they are eligible for job progression and promotional opportunities throughout the utility.
“It’s a win-win,” says Jim. “We can take a person who has some mechanical ability and willingness to learn, and give them a solid education – and career – in wastewater. People get a great job opportunity, and we get new, highly-trained operators.”
To learn more about the OIT program and apply visit: Operator In Training Program Call For Applicants
- A college degree is not a requirement.
- There is room to grow your salary
- King County Benefits including medical, vision, dental and participation in the Public Employees Retirement System