A laboratory analyst performs hands-on work in water or wastewater laboratories to monitor the treatment process. The goal is to frequently and consistently analyze the flow to optimize the treatment process and meet regulatory requirements.
Wastewater lab professionals monitor the quality of biological activity in the secondaries; the quality and content of biosolids and the quality of the treatment plant's final effluent. Lab professionals ensure the treatment plant is producing good quality water that meets regulatory requirements and can be safely returned to a local river or into the ocean.
Laboratory analysts are responsible for collecting daily, and sometimes hourly, samples from the treatment plant. After tests are run, data is recorded in official treatment plant performance reports. Those reports are formatted and submitted to local health departments, State regulators and Federal regulators. Water quality and treatment plant performance are also summarized and made available to the general public in annual water quality reports.
Examples of Lab Analyst exam topics
These are a few basic examples of the competencies necessary to become certified:
- Understand the standard physical, chemical and microbiological properties of wastewater
- Know the methods and technique for quantitative laboratory analysis
- Know laboratory hazards and proper safety precautions and procedures
- Know the proper procedures in preparing standardized reagents and media
- Perform standard physical, chemical and biological tests
- Math including flow, volume, area and conversions
- Regulations and paper work standards
- And more
For a more detailed exam blue print and outline, click on the "Prepare" tab.
Lab Analyst grade levels
There are four Lab grade levels and a typical career ladder:
- Grade 1 Entry Level
- Grade 2 Analyst
- Grade 3 Supervisor
- 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 process and make the certification mandatory 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.
Amber Baylor, South Orange County Wastewater District
“It is nice to realize there are people like us giving back by delivering clean water and preventing pollution.”
Certification held: Lab 4
Mark Koekemoer, Central Marin Sanitation Agency
“We are supporting the greater industry, providing data for operators to use, identifying trouble spots, giving regulatory guidance, and monitoring how we’re doing on our discharge (to the receiving stream)."
Certification held: Lab 4
Robert Wilson, City of Petaluma
“I enjoy reaching out to the public and fostering changes in behavior—especially regarding emerging contaminates, improper disposal of wipes, and pharmaceutical products."
Certification held: ECI 2, Lab 2