Used with permission from North Polk Living Magazine (April '19 issue)
When Nick Obernolte graduated from North Polk High School, he pondered his next move. His dad owns Allied Systems in Des Moines, an industrial waste water company, repair and wholesale plumbing company.
"I grew up in the business. My dad was always outside, seeing something new. It appealed to me to do a variety of outdoor work," he says. "I couldn't see myself sitting in an office."
He enrolled in DMACC's two-year Water Environmental Technology program. He received an associate's degree and completed certifications in water distribution and waste water collection.
Obernolte is employed as a water service technician at Allied Systems. In his job, he deals with anything water-reflated by ensuring water treatment operation and waste water collection systems are working properly. He's obtained four different water-related licenses and completes annual continuing education, which is required to maintain his licensing.
Obernolte feels his work is an important career; however, some people don't always understand his job's impact.
"Lots of people turn on the faucet and expect water. They might not think about how it got there. Most people don't think about their water until something goes wrong," he says. "I think my line of work is often overlooked or taken for granted."
The licensing, field safety training and on-the-job training make it a professional career, one that he feels proud of, and one he knows is making a difference in the community."
"I want to help the environment - and to help maintain clean water for everyone," he says.
Obernolte is working toward obtaining his Grade 4 operator license, which is the highest level water specialist in Iowa - "just like the Des Moines Water Works guy, Bill Stowe."
"It's a great career option. There's a study where it shows that a lot of older employees are soon leaving the workforce and retiring. I think it's a great field for young people - pay wise - and there's lots of situations for advancement."