Two letters after a name can have a big effect on a career – just look at the R.N. or P.E. Those designations add a level of credibility to the professional, affect the pay scale, and indicate the knowledge necessary to perform to the best of one’s ability.
With the support of the American Water Works Association (AWWA; Denver) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF; Alexandria, Va.), the Association of Boards of Certification (ABC; Ankeny, Iowa) recognized the need for a similar designation that gives water and wastewater operators credit where credit is due.
Operators are front line protectors of human health, either through ensuring safe drinking water or the safety of waterways through effective wastewater management. They are the lifeblood of every community and deserve a way to be showcased as professionals.
And so – built by operators for operators – the Professional Operator (PO) program was born.
Brian Faist (left), a Professional Operator from Rivergrove, Ore., receives his PO certificate from Andrew Houlihan, Water Treatment Operations Commissioner for Halifax Water (Nova Scotia, Canada) at ACE18 in Las Vegas. Faist said he sought out this credential to test his knowledge and accelerate his career. “The PO designation has made me a more appealing candidate for promotion,” he said. Credit: Courtesy of ABC
Georginna Lockett from Atlanta received her Professional Operator certificate from Andrew Houlihan, Water Treatment Operations Commissioner for Halifax Water (Nova Scotia, Canada) at ACE18 in Las Vegas. Earning this credential assures that these operators have mastered the most rigorous standards of their disciplines. “Being a PO certifies me in the industry as a top-level operator and that has been my goal since I started in the field,” Locket said. Credit: Courtesy of ABC
JOIN A COMMUNITY
POs are an elite group of like-minded individuals, deeply committed to serving the public and growing in the water sector. Having a supportive community for sharing professional knowledge is absolutely invaluable. The designation Reimagine Credentialing with the Professional Operator Program opens doors for international networking, connects operators with opportunities to be water sector dvocates, and qualifies operators to attend events along the way.
GROW AS A PROFESSIONAL
Becoming a certified PO signals to employers that the operator is an achiever – committed to their profession long-term and ready to go above and beyond. “I became a Professional Operator because of the chance to test my knowledge and accelerate my career,” said Brian Faist, Professional Operator in Rivergrove, Ore. “The PO designation has made me a more appealing candidate for promotion.”
Whether looking to grow within a company or trying to find a job, being a PO makes an operator stand out in a crowd.
The PO program is the first internationally recognized professional designation for water and wastewater operators. With the designation, peers, customers, and the public can feel confident that a PO has mastered the most rigorous standards. “I wanted a challenge and I tackled it,” said Georginna Lockett, PO in Atlanta. “Being a PO certifies me in the industry as a top-level operator and that has been my goal since I started in the field.” All POs must also adhere to a code of conduct, which bolsters an operator’s reputation and builds additional community trust.
Becoming a certified PO signals to employers that the operator is an achiever – committed to their profession long-term and ready to go above and beyond.
Water sector adopters of the PO program are continuing to grow and it’s helping to mold an expansive future for operators. “Broad acceptance of a standard certification can make water professional credentials portable across state or country lines,” said Paul Bishop, President and CEO of ABC. “With many benefits and potential solutions also come some challenges, but industry leaders at WEF, AWWA, and ABC are up to the task.” The PO program is a great leap toward an industry credential standard. It includes uniform and transparent credentialing that is recognizable by any employer or certification body.
BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY
PO certification is offered to operators in four levels (from Class I through Class IV) for water treatment, water distribution, wastewater collection, and wastewater treatment. Joining the PO movement is
simple and the entire process can take as little as a few weeks.
• Step 1: Create an Online Profile.
The path to becoming a PO starts by creating a profile online at portal.abccert.org. An operator will be asked to provide such information as work and education history.
• Step 2: Submit an Application.
The operator applies and ABC reviews the operator’s profile to ensure basic criteria have been met. Applications are accepted from anywhere in the world, any day ofthe year.
• Step 3: Take the Exam. In some
cases, operators may have already passed a certification exam that ABC will accept. If not, the operator will schedule a time to take an ABC certification exam. Once the exam is passed, the operator will receive a certificate, be invited to a POWER event to be formally recognized, and join the PO community.