Water Quality Division: Safe Drinking Water: Operator Certification

ADEQ's Operator Certification Program establishes guidelines to ensure that only certified operators make decisions about process control or system integrity that affects public health. The program establishes minimum standards for certification and recertification of the operators of drinking water and wastewater systems.

Operator certifications are classified into one of four grades by facility type, size, complexity and population served. The grade corresponds with the level of system complexity with Grade 1 being the most simple and Grade 4 being the most complex. Operators are required to maintain their certification through participation in continuing professional education workshops and must be re-certified every three years.

For more information, forms and document submission please contact ADEQ's Operator Certfication Section

  • Drinking Water Monitoring and Protection Unit Contact Information
  • Frequently Asked Questions about the Operator Certification Program
  • Operator Certification Fee Proposal

    ADEQ seeks to establish new and reasonable fees for the certification of water and wastewater operators. ADEQ’s proposed fees are directly related to the level of effort expended by the department to administer the operator certification program. The revenue from these fees will be deposited in the State General Fund. The proposed fees are $65 per new certificate; $150 per certificate renewal and $50 for each additional renewal if expiration date is the same; $150 per early exam request review and $250 per reciprocity request review.

    Failure to establish new fees for the ADEQ State Drinking Water (SDW) program could negatively impact ADEQ’s ability to implement the Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and potentially impact the quality and safety of Arizona’s drinking water systems. Furthermore, ADEQ’s delegated authority could be lost and oversight of the drinking water program could revert to the U.S. EPA.

    On December 4, 2014, ADEQ submitted the Notice of Final Rulemaking to the Governor's Regulatory Review Council (GRRC). This is the final step in the rulemaking process and decides whether the rules should be approved in whole or in part, with or without changes, or be returned to the agency, in whole or in part, or tabled until a later meeting. GRRC reviews rules to ensure that they are necessary and to avoid duplication and adverse impact on the public. GRRC assesses whether a rule is clear, concise, understandable, legal, consistent with legislative intent, within the agency's statutory authority, and whether the benefits of a rule outweigh the cost.

    Download the Notice of Final Rulemaking submitted to GRRC.

    To receive continued fee rule updates please subscribe to the drinking water/wastewater operator certification list serve.

    Operator Certification Workshops

    The Operator Certification Program hosts free workshops throughout the year. All operators, stakeholders and community members are welcome to attend and participate. PDHs will be awarded at all workshops.

    Please check often for updates as workshops subject to change.

    2015 Workshops and Training
    June 16 Workshop ADEQ Main Office Agenda Click for Registration
    June 9-10 Workshop Sierra Vista, AZ Agenda Click for Registration
    May 19-20 Workshop Prescott, AZ Agenda Click for Registration
    May 13 Workshop ADEQ Main Office Agenda Click for Registration
    April 28-29 Workshop Tucson, AZ Agenda Click for Registration
    April 15 Workshop ADEQ Main Office Agenda Click for Registration
    March 31 Workshop ADEQ Main Office Agenda Click for Registration
    March 17-18 Workshop Yuma, AZ Agenda Click for Registration
    February 24-25 Workshop Pinetop Agenda Click for Registration
    February 4 Workshop ADEQ Main Office Agenda Click for Registration
    January 27-28 Workshop Lake Havasu Agenda Click for Registration

    Operator Certification Examinations

    ADEQ has contracted with Gateway Community College (GWCC) to proctor Association of Boards of Certification (ABC) operator certification exams for all operator classifications and grade levels.

    Please visit Gateway Community College for registration, exam dates and locations.

    Appropriate Identification

    A person sitting for an exam for the purposes of obtaining a certified operators license must present appropriate identification. Such documentation includes but is not limited to, an Arizona drivers license issued on or after January 1, 1997, a U.S. Passport or a birth certificate issued in any state, territory or possession of the United States.

    What to Bring to the Exam

    In addition to identification, bring a nonscientific/nonprogrammable calculator, pencils and registration confirmation.

    Operator Certification Exam Need-To-Know Criteria

    Visit the Association of Boards of Certification Leaving ADEQ Web site web site for the 2012 standardized exam need-to-know criteria and conversion sheets.

    Operator Certification Reference Materials

    The link below is a list of reference materials for operator certification exams. The references cover topics listed on the ABC Need-to-Know Criteria. Providing this list of references does not constitute an endorsement. The references on the list are not the only training materials available. Although you may use these resources in preparation for certification examinations, this list does not imply that any one of these references includes all information contained on an operator certification exam.

    Reactivation of an Operator Certificate(s)

    An operator certificate is active for three years. Once the certificate expires, 90 days are given to submit a renewal form with 30 PDHs. After 90 days, the certificate(s) become inactive and testing is required for reactivation. Contact the Operator Certification Program for an approval letter if you are re-testing at a grade two or higher.

    Obtaining Certificate Copies

    The Operator Certification Program will provide copies for valid certificates that have been lost or damaged. To obtain a certificate copy, provide the following information in writing:

    • Name
    • Operator Identification Number
    • Last Four Digits of your Social Security Number
    • Current Mailing Address
    • Employment Information (Name and identification number of water and/or wastewater systems that you operate)

    Requests for certificate copies will be processed monthly. Current or potential employers may contact the Operator Certification Program directly to verify your certification.


    ADEQ will recognize certifications obtained from other jurisdictions. To receive reciprocity, you must:

    • Demonstrate that you passed an examination that is equivalent to those administered by ADEQ approved testers; and
    • Complete and submit the Arizona Request for Operator Certification Reciprocity along with copies of your current active certificate(s).

    This reciprocity form can be electronically filled out and saved to your desktop then attached to an email.

    This reciprocity form can either be electronically filled out or hand written.

    Note: Only one of the forms need to be filled out and submitted to the operator certification program.

    Certificate Renewal and Professional Development Hour (PDH) Tracking Form

    To renew an operator certificate, complete and return the Certificate Renewal and PDH Tracking Form to the Operator Certification Program. All renewal requests will be processed in the month certificates actually expire. Please allow four to six weeks from your certificate expiration date for delivery of your new certificates.

    This renewal form can be electronically filled out and saved to your desktop then attached to an email.

    This renewal form can either be electronically filled out or hand written.

    Note: Only one of the forms need to be filled out and submitted to the operator certification program.

    Operator Certification Professional Development Hour (PDH) Workbooks

    Arizona certified operators may complete each of the following workbooks once during a certification period. Workbooks that are illegible will not receive PDHs. Submit the completed workbook(s) when your certificate(s) is due for renewal.

    Drinking Water/Wastewater Operator Certification Listserv

    This listserv sends out email notices regarding upcoming workshops, training and stakeholder meetings related to drinking water and wastewater system operator certification. If you're interested, please subscribe to our listserv, select the Drinking Water/Wastewater Operator Certification box, enter a valid email address and select 'subscribe.'

    Operator Certification Update

    The Operator Certification Program would like to be notified of address and employment changes for Arizona certified operators. Fill out and submit the Operator Certification Update Form to the Operator Certification Program.

    This update form can be electronically filled out and saved to your desktop and then emailed, mailed, or faxed to ADEQ.

    Operator Certification Database

    The Operator Certification Database allows active operators to research the status of their certificates, including expiration dates. You may also use it to run queries on groups of operators, sorting them by type, grade and city. To make corrections or changes to the database fill out an Operator Certification Update Form and return the completed form to the Operator Certification Program.

    Occupational Outlook

    The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics provides career information for the water and wastewater industry. The Occupational Outlook Handbook covers hundreds of occupations and describes what they do, their work environment, how to become one, pay and more.

    See Also: