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WORK FOR WATER Become a krwa apprentice today!

Approximately 97% of the population in Kentucky has access to public drinking water. This means that, even in the most rural of communities, there exist job opportunities within the water and wastewater industry. Simply put, if there are water and wastewater services in your community, state law requires there must be certified operators in responsible charge of those facilities.

Due to a myriad of reasons, our state is facing a shortage of certified operators, making them high in demand and short in supply. It is projected that 30-50% of Operations Specialists will retire in the next decade. The average age of an operator in Kentucky is mid-50s. Nationally, only 2% of operators are age 18-25. Further, advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training required of this workforce. Our industry must address the need to train the next generation of skilled workers in order to protect and provide what is arguably the most valuable resource that is essential to all life—clean water.

What is An Operations Specialist?

Water and Wastewater Operations Specialists ensure the quality of Kentucky's water resources and protect public health, providing critical services to their communities. They protect our environment and ensure the health and safety of its citizens by providing access to safe, affordable drinking water and effective sanitation management.

Water and Wastewater Operation Specialists have a wide range of skills from computer technology to heavy machinery, from financial understanding to regulatory compliance. This profession offers opportunities to work both indoors and outdoors and must interact and work with engineers, chemists, management staff and laboratory staff. Rural utility operators typically are responsible for management, operations, and maintenance of a system. They can also be responsible for inspecting equipment, monitoring daily activity, maintaining regular test samples and ensure that safety standards are met by staying current on environmental laws and regulations.

Is Apprenticeship Right for You?

KRWA’s apprenticeship program started in the fall of 2019 and offers two occupations:

  • Water Systems Operations Specialist
  • Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist

Program Requirements:

  • 4,000 hours of On the Job Training (approximately 2 years)
  • 288 hours or Related Technical Instruction

Once an apprentice is matched with a utility, the apprentice will be assigned a mentor. The apprentice will work alongside this experienced technician for the duration of the program, and will receive a well-rounded, holistic technical education. Completion of the KRWA Apprenticeship Program will result in at least one water or wastewater operator certification and a nationally recognized registered apprenticeship credential.

Some of the skills and knowledge to be gained from this program include:

  • Water/wastewater system operations and Maintenance
  • Sample collection and reporting for Water/Wastewater regulatory compliance
  • Drinking water disinfection and wastewater treatment techniques
  • Mechanical and electrical troubleshooting
  • Collaboration with operators, managers, board members and regulating agencies
  • Security and emergency response procedures and planning
  • Management and supervisory training

Benefits of Apprenticeship

Earn & Learn: From their first day of work, apprentices receive a paycheck that is guaranteed to increase as their training progresses. Apprentices also complete a combination of job-related instruction and hands-on training at the job site leading to a nationally-recognized, portable credential.

Hands-on career training: Apprentices receive practical on-the-job training resulting in improved skills and competencies as well as the potential to earn college credit toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.

A career: Once the apprenticeship is complete, workers are on their way to a successful long-term career with a competitive salary and little or no educational debt.

National credential: When an apprentice graduates from a career training program, he or she earns a certified portable credential accepted by industries and employers across the nation.

Community Impact: KRWA apprenticeship offers an opportunity for the apprentice to make a difference in their own communities. They will be providing clean water to their family and friends. That is surely something to take pride in!

Check out the NRWA Apprenticeship Video below to Learn More!

Who is Kentucky Rural Water Association?

Kentucky Rural Water Association (KRWA) is a private, non-profit organization with a goal to foster professionalism in the water and wastewater industry through non-regulatory training, technical assistance programs, and advocacy.

KRWA represents public drinking water and wastewater utilities across the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Many of our member utilities are in rural communities.

Who Can Apply?

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be 18 years old or older, OR enrolled in an approved pre-apprenticeship program through a secondary school.
  • Have a high school diploma or GED.
  • Physically capable to perform the essential functions of the apprenticeship program.
  • Apprentices will be required to take and pass a drug screening.
  • Apprentices must pass a background check (pursuant to federal guidance for employees of a water system).
  • Applicants must be to able attend all formal trainings.

Still in High School?

KRWA partners Tech Ready Apprentices for Careers in Kentucky (TRACK) to recruit high school students into our industry and create a career pathway into our Registered Apprenticeship program.

Some of the classes you have already taken or plan to take could be counted toward the Related Technical Instruction requirement. These are the classes in the Agriculture career pathway that we have already identified as being eligible for credit toward our apprenticeship program:

  • Principles of Ag or Agri Sciences
  • Environmental Science
  • Small Power or Ag Power
  • Ag Employability Skills
  • Co-op (if a student is placed at a water or wastewater utility)

Are you interested in applying to the KRWA Apprenticeship Program?

Applications are accepted year round!

Apprentices can choose their pathway.

  • Water Systems Operations Specialist
  • Wastewater Systems Operations Specialist

To start the enrollment process, please click "Apply Now" below.

If you have questions about this opportunity, contact us at (270) 843-2291 or email apprenticeship@krwa.org for more information.