Career Outlook in Water and Wastewater

​​​​DMACC's Water Environmental Technology degrees and certifications have been designed for students interested in the environment, ecology and/or engineering, and who have a passion for discovery.

With a coming wave of retirements in this industry, plus the introduction of new technology and greater demand for technicians, jobs in the water and wastewater industry will continue to be in-demand across the country. In fact, it is projected that over 10,000 job openings will need t​o be filled by 2031. These are jobs that cannot be vacant in communities; treating and protecting our water supplies is an essential service. ​

Operators can begin as entry-level but most positions require employees to gain certifications through the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). The average annual wage for water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators in Iowa was $49,350 - $57,380 in 2021. In the larger facilities in central Iowa, wages can average from $55,630 - $93,980. Wages typically increase as operators gain certifications.​ Responsibilities include:

  • Operate and maintain equipment
  • Calculate chemical dosages to adjust chemicals and pH
  • Monitor meters and gauges
  • Take test samples and evaluate results

More information about this career can be found here​.​

Successful Students, Prepared Graduates, In-Demand Professionals

A DMACC Water Environmental Technology degree prepares you for employment in a number of locations and facilities:

  • Municipal water utilities (Iowa alone has more than 1,000 water municipalities)
  • Municipal wastewater treatment plants
  • Rural water systems
  • Industrial waste treatment facilities
  • Privately owned water/wastewater plants

Diverse Careers

Water careers fall into three major categories:

Skilled workers monitor and control the processes, perform maintenance and repairs, and report results.

Industry professionals design important water and wastewater projects; recommend locations, size and expansions; and develop operation processes. These engineers include electrical, chemical, mechanical, sanitary, environmental and structural. Students interested in this track should consider DMACC's outstanding pre-Engineering program, offered at DMACC Ankeny, Boone and Urban Campuses.

Researchers gather and analyze data from lakes, rivers, oceans and aquifers. They also support university and government projects to develop improved water management practices.