Water Works Operator Certification

Certifying individuals responsible for providing safe and reliable public drinking water to the communities of the state.

A lake with mountains in the backgroundThe New Hampshire Water Works Operator Certification Program ensures that the individuals responsible for delivering safe and reliable drinking water to New Hampshire communities have met specific education and experience requirements, and passed a certification exam confirming their knowledge and understanding of drinking water supply fundamentals. The program also promotes training and education, to assist drinking water operators in professional growth, and works to ensure the standards of the profession are upheld.   

NH RSA 332:E and Administrative Rule Env-Dw 502 require public water systems (PWSs) to have certified water works operators responsible for their operation and maintenance. New Hampshire has five grades of certification for water works operators, from grade 1A (the most basic) to the highest at grade 4. Each grade has its own education and experience requirements (see Table 1 below).

To become a certified water works operator in New Hampshire, an individual must meet the education and experience requirements of the certification grade level for which he/she is applying, submit a completed application with fee, and pass the certification examination with a grade of 70% or higher.

  • In-person certification exams: April and December of 2022 at NHDES.
  • Computer-based certification exams: Currently there are locations to take Treatment and Distribution grades I-IV exams at various locations throughout the state. These locations include Portsmouth, Nashua, Manchester and Concord. To apply for an online computer-based exam, simply submit an "Application for Water Works Certification" form with fee and check the "online eligibility" box.
  • The vendor will charge an additional $104 per exam when you schedule your exam.

Under the operator-in-training (OIT) provision, an individual may apply to take a grade 1 exam without prior water works experience. There are also provisions for OIT for grades 2 and 3, and education and experience substitution possibilities.

Grade Education (yrs) Experience (yrs)*
IV 16 6
III 14 4
II 12 3
I 12 1
IA 12 0.5**

*At least 50% of experience must be actual operating experience at a plant classified no more than one grade below the grade for which the applicant is applying.
** Or completion of the Small Public Water System Operator Course, held spring and fall.

For questions related to the NH Drinking Water Works Certified Operator Program, please email dwgbcertop@des.nh.gov.

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Did you know?

Did you know?

These organizations have additional information and resources for drinking water operators: EPAAmerican Water Works Association and the Sacramento State Office of Water Programs.

Cybersecurity Grant Program

Through the Cybersecurity Implementation Grant Program, a new program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, grant money is made available to drinking water and wastewater systems to develop and implement programs to proactively mitigate the risk of cybersecurity attacks.

Drinking Water Operator Certification Program Manager

Training is also available through these partner organizations: