Drinking Water Operator Certification
Frequently Asked Questions

The following is a list of commonly asked questions individuals have concerning Water Operator Certification. The answers to these questions should provide you with most of the needed information about the certification program. Most of the answers are based on information provided in Minnesota Rules, chapter 9400.

Who needs to be certified?

Any community and nontransient-noncommunity public water supply system that provides pumped water for human consumption must employ a certified water operator.

A community public water supply system is a system that has a minimum of 15 service connections or living units used by year-round residents, or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents. These systems generally provide drinking water to people where they permanently reside. Municipalities, mobile home parks, correctional institutions, apartments, and nursing homes are all examples of community systems.

A nontransient noncommunity public water supply system is a system that provides drinking water to at least 25 of the same nonresident people (such as students and employees) on a regular basis. These systems include schools, daycare facilities, factories, and businesses.

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What rules and regulations apply to this program?

The State of Minnesota has established minimum standards for personnel responsible for operating public water supply systems. Minnesota water operator certification rules and statutes are listed in

Minnesota Rules, chapter 9400

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What is an operator?

A water supply system operator means a person who has direct responsibility for the operation of or operates a water supply system or such parts of the system as would affect the quality and safety of the water.

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How are certificate levels classified?

There are five water operator certificate class levels; A, B, C, D, and E. The certificate levels are based on education, experience, and system requirements.

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What do I need to do to get certified?

To become certified, you must demonstrate your knowledge by passing the required written examination. Certain education and experience requirements must be met to take the exam.

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What are the Education and Experience requirements I must meet to take an examination?

An applicant who seeks certification must meet the qualifications for one of the classes specified in Minnesota Rules, chapter 9400, Certification of System and Facility Operators or meet the requirements for reciprocity.

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How do I apply for certification?

Fully complete a Water Supply System Operator Exam Application Form and submit it with the correct fee to the Minnesota Department of Health. The deadline for accepting applications is 15 days before the examination date. We will notify you by mail if you have been approved to take the exam. Call 651-201-4652 to obtain a copy of the Minnesota Water Operators Study Guide.

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How much does it cost to get certified?

A nonrefundable $32 examination fee, valid for all certificate class levels, must accompany the qualification application. Applicants who pass exams pay an additional $23 to obtain the Minnesota Department of Health Water Supply System Operator Certificate.

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What type of examination is given?

The written examination contains multiple choice and math questions. All exams are closed book and have a two-hour time limit. You will be given a formula sheet and we suggest the use of a calculator. An operator must score 70 or more points out of 100 to pass an exam.

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When are examinations given?

Water examinations are given several times per year, usually on the last day of a formal training course. Exam sessions for individual operators will not be scheduled. Dates and locations for exams are available by calling 651-201-4652, or by going to the Minnesota Water Operators Training Schedule, which includes training schools and the examination calendar.

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What happens if I pass the examination?

You will be sent a letter notifying you of your examination score. Upon receipt by the department of the $23 certification fee your certificate will be sent to you. The $23 fee must be received within 90 days of passing the examination or you will need to retake the exam. Your written exam is available for your review up to 60 days after the date of examination.

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What happens if I fail the examination?

You will be sent a letter notifying you of your examination score. You may retake the exam in 90 days. Your written exam is available for your review up to 60 days after the date of examination.

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How often must I renew my certificate?

A certificate expires three years from the date of issue. You will be mailed a renewal form 4-6 weeks in advance of your certificate expiration date. A certificate in any given classification must be renewed within 30 days after its expiration date. It is important to inform the certification office if your address changes.

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What are the renewal requirements?

Certified operators in Minnesota are required to demonstrate professional growth by attending approved water and wastewater industry related training to acquire contact hours within a three-year period in order to renew their certificates. At least 50 percent of renewal hours for water certificates must be direct water operations training. The other training hours may be from disciplines closely related to the profession, provided the course work is approved by the department.

Renewal Hours Required:

  • Class A - 32 contact hours
  • Class B - 24 contact hours
  • Class C - 16 contact hours
  • Class D - 8 contact hours
  • Class E - 4 contact hours

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What if I fail to renew?

A person who has failed to renew may apply for reinstatement for up to one year from the expiration date of their certificate. A certificate may be reinstated only if the operator can provide proof that education requirements have been met during the entire time since the certificate was last issued or renewed. If evidence cannot be provided, the operator must retake the exam to obtain certification.

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Where do I get more information on Operator Certification?

You can receive information on operator certification by contacting:

Mark Sloan (mark.sloan@state.mn.us) 651-201-4652
Noel Hansen (noel.hansen@state.mn.us) 651-201-4690

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Updated Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 10:16AM