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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 will resume in Fall 2021; however, currently there is an opportunity to take Treatment and Distribution Grades I-IV exams online at various locations throughout the state. These locations include Portsmouth, Nashua, Manchester and Concord. 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

Looking to hire a certified drinking water operator?

NHDES provides a list of New Hampshire certified drinking water operators.

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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.

Drinking Water Operator Certification Program Manager

Calendar of Events

Training is also available through these partner organizations: