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Collection System Maintenance Certification

Collection System Professionals

Wastewater Collections Operators are employed by municipal agencies and City Public Works Departments and are responsible for skilled tasks in the construction, maintenance, and repair of sewer systems.

These professionals inspect, clean, maintain, construct, and repair wastewater collection systems including sanitary sewers, storm drains, pump stations, pipes, manholes and catch basins. They operate a variety of light and moderately heavy power driven equipment. They play a critical role in the community, ensuring public health and safety by preventing and/or responding to sewage overflows and blockages.


Examples of CSM exam topics

These are a few basic examples of the competencies necessary to become certified:

  • Sewer cleaning machinery
  • Construction equipment
  • Math including flow, volume, area and conversions
  • Pumps, pipelines and valves
  • Safety including traffic control
  • Trenching and trench safety
  • Regulations and paper work standards

For a more detailed exam blue print and outline, click on the "Prepare" tab.

CSM grade levels

There are four CSM grade levels and a typical career ladder:

  • Grade 1 Entry Level
  • Grade 2 Journey
  • Grade 3 Lead
  • Grade 4 Manager

CWEA offers voluntary certifications for water professionals.

The State Water Board's program is a mandatory certification for Drinking water treatment, distribution and wastewater operators. In order to work as an operator you must pass the State's exam.

Many California water agencies use CWEA's certifications of professional competence as part of their hiring and promotional process. Some agencies require this certification for employment. Some agencies also provide a pay bump for achieving CWEA certifications and pursuing higher grade levels. Be sure to ask your employer.

CWEA's mission is to increase the effectiveness of water professionals through certification, education and advocating for the profession.

Minimum Qualifications
Exam Windows

Phil Scott, West Bay Sanitary District

“I have found CWEA certified workers are safer, smarter and more creative in developing solutions. CWEA plays a huge role."

Certification held: CSM 4

Richard Salas, Long Beach Water District

“The water profession is thriving. The biggest challenges we face, because we're in a desert and due to drought, is to find and recover existing water."

Certification held: CSM 4, SWRCB Water Treatment Grade 5

Dorien McElroy, Irvine Ranch Water District

“Wastewater is not a glamorous field, but there’s always going to be a need. We have a growing population and a finite water supply.”

Certifications held: CSM 4, ECI 1, Lab 1

Code of Ethics

CWEA members uphold the highest professional standards. We protect our communities, the environment and each other.

Read the ethics code

Cert Email Sign-up

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