SCTC Training Future Water Professionals
Even with the job market in flux during the pandemic, the need for technical training for future water professionals continues, as local water utilities anticipate retirements from Baby Boomers in the near future.
As a result, the partnership between the Henry County Water Authority (HCWA) and Southern Crescent Technical College (SCTC) continues with added relevance, as both parties work to facilitate a successful Water Quality Technician Certification Program. This Program is intended to recruit and train future water professionals, and it includes four courses totaling 12 credit hours, offered at SCTC at a cost of $100 per credit hour.
During the Fall Semester, which begins in August, and the Winter 2021 Semester, which begins in January, all four courses required for Certification as a Water Quality Technician will be available at SCTC. The four courses being offered to complete Certification include: ESCI 1010, which is Occupational Safety & Health Regulations; ESCI 1120, which is an Introduction to Water Treatment Processes; ESCI 1140, which is titled Wastewater Treatment; and ESCI 1260, which is titled Water Supply.
Once students complete the four courses, the Program then prepares them to take the state’s exam necessary to obtain a Water and Wastewater Treatment Operators Class III License. After passing the exam, students then need three months of work experience – a residency at a water or wastewater treatment facility such as those operated by the HCWA – in order to qualify for Certification. After completion of the course work and on-the-job training, SCTC students then will be able to apply for their Class III Operators License.
The Water Quality Technician Certification Program has been well received by students, some of whom are current employees at the HCWA who have been enrolled at SCTC.
Tony Carnell, HCWA Deputy Manager, says the Water Authority continues to offer incentives for its employees who work in other areas of the utility, such as field operations or customer service, to obtain their Water Quality Technician Certification. This “cross training” is part of the Authority’s Business Continuity Plan to have additional employees qualified and capable of operating any of the utility’s water or wastewater plants, if needed.
Carnell says the need for cross training has never been more critical to HCWA operations, now that the utility is faced with staff contingencies during the current pandemic.
“Having some of our current employees trained and certified as plant operators will help to assure the water keeps running, even during the challenges of a pandemic,” says Carnell.
In addition to providing incentives for its own employees to obtain Water Quality Technician Certification, the Authority is offering paid internships for other students to encourage them to enter the water profession. The utility provides a valuable place for future water and wastewater plant operators to garner the professional experience and training necessary to obtain their Class III License. Some may even go on to work at water/sewer treatment facilities operated by municipalities or other industries within Henry County and throughout the state of Georgia.
With uncertainty in the job market currently, the Water Quality Technician Certification Program offers a promising career path and gainful employment for those who might be interested in working in the water industry.
For more information on the Water Quality Technician Certification Program at SCTC, potential students can contact Alexis Byrd at 770-914-4411 or Alexis.Byrd@sctech.edu, or Sandra Patterson at 706-646-6235 orSandra.Patterson@sctech.edu.
Captions for Photos:
(Top) Belinda Bentoski, Water Quality Technician Program Coordinator at Southern Crescent Technical College, introduces new students to the program course work.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.