Septic Designer or Installer
Permits issued to those who demonstrate working knowledge of disposal systems.
A wastewater disposal system is required for any structure to which a water supply is connected. Sewage disposal systems, or septic systems, must be designed and installed by an individual holding a valid permit issued by the NHDES Subsurface Systems Bureau. All test pit data must be logged by or under the supervision of a permitted designer. Additionally, applications for repair or replacement of an existing septic system must be submitted and installed by a permit-holder.
NHDES will issue a permit to any person who demonstrates a sound working knowledge of the procedures and practices required in site evaluation and the ability to read approved waste disposal plans.
To apply to become a permitted designer or installer, you must complete an application and pass an examination.
NHDES administers examinations two times per year, with the major testing taking place in the spring and fall. Please also review the Installer or Designer certification schedules depending on which exam you intend on taking.
Notice: The fall 2022 exam application window has closed, please check this page in the spring of 2023 for the next exams.
Please mail in your application to take this exam instead of coming to the office in person. We will register people an a first come first serve basis using the postmark date of your application.
NHDES administers examinations two times per year, with the major testing taking place in the spring and fall.
An installer or designer permit is issued upon successful completion of the appropriate examination. The designer's exam consists of written sections and a field exam for soil interpretation. The written and field components of the designer’s exam must be passed within a one-year time frame. Installers must pass a written examination only. The examinations are intended to ensure that designers and installers can design and install appropriate systems for a variety of site and use conditions. The Exams will cover the following topics. The best way to prepare is to apprentice with a permitted designer or installer to learn the trade.
The best way to gain knowledge of how to install a septic system is to apprentice with a permitted installer. Knowledge of all aspects of the installation process is incorporated into the exam.
- Knowledge of how to read a plan and determine how the design intent relates to the plan.
- Ability to identify the highest existing contour within the bed area and other specifics in the design intent.
- Knowledge of how the bed bottom is set and what instruments are used. 3 scenarios are given - at grade, above grade, below grade.
- Ability to read a plan and determine if system components can be moved.
- Knowledge of the 50% rule and how it relates to shifting the EDA.
- Knowledge of required setbacks.
- Knowledge of how moving the tank will cause the invert elevations to change.
- Knowledge of tie points and methods of laying out the bed.
- Ability to use a scale.
- Ability to read contours and how they relate to survey spot elevations.
The best way to gain knowledge of how to design a septic system is to apprentice with a permitted designer. Knowledge of all aspects of the design process is incorporated into the exam.
- Ability to determine wastewater flow for a proposed design.
- Ability to determine the size of system components.
- Ability to draw an ISDS design by hand.
- Knowledge of the design intent.
- Knowledge of required setbacks.
- Knowledge of lot loading requirements.
- Knowledge of the 50% rule.
- Knowledge of the minimum requirements for a design.
Renewal / Continuing Education
Installer and designer permits are valid for a two-year period from January 1 to December 31 of the following year. Permits for installers and designers are renewable upon proper application, payment of a biennial fee of $80, and compliance with the continuing education requirements.
Within the two-year renewal period, permitted designers and installers must complete a minimum of six credit
hours of continuing education approved by NHDES. See the Approved Continuing Education Seminars.
For more information about Septic Systems, see the Septic Systems webpage.
Call the Subsurface Reviewer of the Day at (603) 271-3501.