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Wastewater Certification Information

The following questions and answers should help individuals seeking to become Indiana Wastewater Certified Operators and those planning on renewing their licenses. Potential applicants should find everything necessary to apply for the exam and determine the necessary materials needed to study for the exam at this website.

How do I become certified?

You must meet the education and experience requirements set forth in the certification rule (327 IAC 5-23) (click on “PDF” next to “ARTICLE 5” and scroll down to page 181 for these requirements) for a particular classification, and then also do the following:

  • complete an application to sit for the certification exam,
  • pay a $30 application fee,
  • receive IDEM approval to sit for the exam, and
  • pass the exam with a score of 70% or higher

Copies of the certification statute and the certification rule (click on “PDF” next to “ARTICLE 5” and scroll down to page 173) are available online. The prerequisite education and experience requirements to sit for an exam vary based on the level of classification and are described in the certification rule (pages 181 and 182). Additionally, there is a new IDEM Nonrule Policy Document (NPD) [PDF] available. This new NPD details how applicants with certain deficits in the prerequisite education and experience may substitute other education and experience they may have in order to still sit for the exam.

How do I apply to IDEM to sit for the test?

Before scheduling an exam date, time and location with Ivy Tech, you must first submit to IDEM a completed application form, and then you must receive approval from IDEM. You may find the exam application or contact the Operator Certification Program staff with any questions you may have about the application process at these links:

On your application, you must denote which of the ten exams you wish to take, but you also may indicate your interest in taking a lower-level exam in the event you do not qualify to sit for the exam for which you initially applied.

How does IDEM review an application?

When applications are received, they are reviewed to determine whether the applicant has the educational level and experience necessary to qualify for the classification being requested.  The educational and experience requirements for each classification are set forth in the Operator Certification Rule at 327 IAC 5-23-9.

These qualifications do not apply if you are seeking to take the exam as an apprentice.

When reviewing your application, Wastewater Operator Certification Program staff will check it for completeness and then evaluate your documented education and experience, as well as consider allowable substitutions as set forth in the rule (5-23-10).  IDEM also now has a Nonrule Policy Document (NPD) which includes more detail about allowable substitutions.  This NPD can be found at this link:

If your initial application is not approved by IDEM, the Operator Certification Program staff will work with you to help you understand what further documentation, education, or experience is required.

Applicants who qualify will be sent an eligibility letter listing the available Ivy Tech locations and contact information.  Denial letters are sent to applicants who do not qualify to take the exam.  Approximately 6 to 8% of applicants are ineligible for the exam.  Agency decisions of ineligibility of the applicant to sit for an exam may be appealed.

How is the test administered?

Wastewater Operator Certification Examinations are offered in computerized form most business days throughout the year at 25 Ivy Tech locations.

After you received your approval letter from IDEM, a date/time for the exam at an Ivy Tech location may be scheduled by going to the Ivy Tech website and selecting the “Schedule Now” button, then selecting the “Non-Student Login” to create an account. This will include entering your e-mail address. Ivy Tech will then send an e-mail to that address which must be opened to finish the scheduling process.

Ivy Tech will charge a separate $45 fee before the exam is administered. Do not send this fee to IDEM.

What is the test like?

All test questions are multiple choice. IDEM maintains a question bank, or list of all possible questions, from which the 50 questions for the A-SO and I-SP exams and 100 questions for the other 8 exams are drawn. After you have scheduled the time, date, and location of your exam with Ivy Tech, you will go to that location at the scheduled time, check in with the proctor, and be directed to one of the testing carrells. You must take your exam admission letter with you to your appointment. The proctor will then load your exam on the computer. You will have three hours to complete the test once testing begins. This is plenty of time to consider and answer all the questions. Alternatively, you may call the testing center of your choice to schedule your exam.

These links will take you to additional information you will need in order to prepare for the exam:

What happens after I take the test?

Ivy Tech will give you your preliminary score before leaving the exam area.  Seventy percent is a passing score, and whether an applicant passes or fails is public information.  Individual scores, however, are confidential.  IDEM will notify you in writing of your official test results. If you achieved a passing score, your certificate and card will be mailed to you. If you receive a failing score, and you still wish to become certified, you must reapply by submitting a new application OR by signing and returning the score letter you receive from IDEM. In either case, you will need to submit a new $30 application fee.

What is an Apprentice Operator?

In addition to the regular levels of operator classification, 327-IAC 5-22 (which will soon become 5-23-11) includes the classification designation of “Wastewater Apprentice”. The Apprentice classification allows persons without the required experience at a wastewater treatment facility to take the same Certification Examination taken by those wishing to obtain certification. The person need only complete the  Apprentice exam application short form. Having passed the exam might allow an apprentice to more easily get a job in the wastewater industry and acquire the necessary experience to then apply for certification.

What is a Provisional Certificate?

If the owner or governing body of a wastewater treatment facility finds itself without a certified operator but has an individual with the prerequisite education and experience who has not yet passed the exam, they may apply for a provisional certificate for this individual. IDEM’s granting of a provisional certificate provides for a short-term temporary operator for a specific wastewater facility.  IDEM may issue a provisional wastewater operator’s certificate only in the following circumstances:

  1. The governing body or owner of a wastewater treatment plant submits a written request specifying a reason for the need for the provisional certification, which may include the need to fill a vacancy created by death, resignation, extended illness, or suspension or revocation of the certification of the operator in responsible charge, or similar cause as determined by the commissioner.
  2. The written request provides the name, education, and experience of the person (nominee) for whom the provisional certificate is requested.
  3. The provisional certificate nominee submits, simultaneously, an application requesting examination and certification.
  4. The provisional certificate nominee currently meets the educational and experience requirements for the appropriate class of certification.

Once all these conditions are met, IDEM may then issue a provisional certificate for up to one year.  A provisional certificate may not be renewed, nor will a second provisional certificate be granted to the same facility.

How do I renew my license?

Most licenses will expire after three years unless you take action to renew it. New licenses issued after taking an exam may have a shorter renewal period but will have the full 3-year renewal period thereafter when renewing in a timely manner.  The expiration date is shown on your card. You should receive a letter from IDEM informing you that it is time to renew, at least 30 days prior to expiration. This renewal notice will contain a link to the site where you can renew online, or where to mail your payment with your renewal application. You will need to:

  • Submit the completed and signed renewal notice application form before the first day of July of the year your license expires, or you may renew your certification license online from May 1 through June 30.
  • Include the $30 renewal fee.

To maintain certification, and the right to work as an Indiana Certified Wastewater Operator, you need to do the following:

  • Earn at least the minimum number of continuing education contact hours required for your classification.
    • Class A-SO and I-SP operators need a total of 8 contact hours.
    • Class A, B, I and II operators need a total of 15 contact hours.
    • Class C, D, III and IV operators need a total of 30 contact hours.
  • At least 70% of the earned continuing education contact hours must be obtained from the technical category of approved continuing education courses.
  • Not more than 30% of the earned continuing education contact hours will be credited toward license renewal from nontechnical subject matter of approved continuing education courses.

What does IDEM say about training courses, and where can I find training providers?

IDEM strongly encourages anyone planning to sit for one of the exams to take a training course, and to thoroughly study all the recommended materials. It will be on the test. We also encourage you to use these training providers to obtain the required contact hours prior to applying for renewal. You can find a list of training providers at this link:

Additionally, the Rule requires anyone who fails the exam three times to take and pass an approved training course prior to attempting to take the exam again. This link takes you to a list of training providers offering these courses:

What materials should I study?

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