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 – troubleshooting 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 PAY & 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.
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.”
Listen to the experience of our recent OITs:
“It is a great experience and opportunity to learn the wastewater treatment process via direct job shadowing.”
“I feel lucky to have gained an incredibly healthy career through this experience. The friendships I know through this work are hugely important to me. The financial stability I’ve gained with this work has provided so many opportunities to enjoy life.”
“This is a solid career that gives great security and just the right amount of challenges. You get to feel good about what you do every day.”
“The most surprising things was how much I ended up loving wastewater! It is such an interesting and important field that I feel passionate about.”
“The hiring process was great for me. I really loved the hands-on interview style. It really helped with my nerves and made me feel more comfortable.”
“The OIT academy opened possibilities for me that I did not think existed. This is the best job I have ever had.”
Current staff train the next generation
“Not only are the OITs mentored by our current operators,” explains Denise, “a lot of other plant staff have become mentors and trainers – and they are just as much part of the success of the program as the OITs themselves.”
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 visit: https://kingcounty.gov/oit
- 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