Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators

4.0/10 job score
risk level
by 2031
or $23.02 hourly
as of 2021

What is the risk of automation?

We calculate this occupation to have an automation risk score of 58% (Robots are watching)

More information on what this score is, and how it is calculated
Qualities required for this occupation:
Assisting and Caring for Others
Manual Dexterity
very important
quite important
[Show all metrics]

What do you think the risk of automation is?

How likely do you think this occupation will be taken over by robots/AI within the next 20 years?

How quickly is this occupation growing?

The number of 'Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators' job openings is expected to decline by -6.9% by 2031
'Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators' is expected to be a very slow growing occupation in comparison to other occupations.
* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2021 and 2031.
Updated projections are due Sep 2023.

What are the median wages for 'Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators' in the United States?

In 2021 the median annual wage for 'Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators' was $47,880, or $23.02 hourly
'Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators' are paid 4.6% higher than the national median wage, which stands at $45,760
* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

How many people are employed as water and wastewater treatment plant and system operators?

As of 2021 there were 121,150 people employed as Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators within the United States.
This represents around 0.09% of the employed workforce across the country.
Put another way, around 1 in 1 thousand people are employed as Water and Wastewater Treatment Plant and System Operators.

Job description

Operate or control an entire process or system of machines, often through the use of control boards, to transfer or treat water or wastewater.

SOC Code: 51-8031.00


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paul says
This job is already fully automated, most of the job is monitoring the systems to see if they're working properly, taking samples here and there, and ensuring the systems are working properly. Humans have a biased view to have ourselves as a last-line-of-defence, because in a sense we're also dealing with the health of an entire population.
I can see complications resulting from system upgrades or increasing efficiency by reducing workers and having people take on more responsibilities with more complex systems, but it will likely never be 100% automated because of our bias..
Apr 01, 2021 at 02:20 PM
Christopher (Small chance) says
Many functions in this industry could be automated -- and should be, in my opinion. But very few systems apply best available technology, and so many do not even fund basic infrastructure maintenance. I believe robots will replace or supplement operators very little within the next 2 decades.
Feb 17, 2021 at 04:32 AM
Doug Flores (Small chance) says
This job takes into account all aspects of being human. You have to listen to the equipment, see changes in the processes, take into account the smell of the wastewater and be able to make changes to the equipment to maintain safe effluent. The operator has to take samples and perform the appropriate tests to ensure quality discharge of the plant.
Jul 30, 2019 at 02:51 PM
Annon says
Thanks for the info. Yeah, it sounds like it will not be 100% automated, but technology will just make the job a little easier. Technology will be there to help out.
Jun 29, 2020 at 02:23 PM
Sarah (Small chance) says
I think wastewater treatment could be done partially be done by robots. I wish we have apps to check if the water is safe.
Jul 02, 2019 at 08:54 PM

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