Water and Wastewater Laboratory Technologist

Water and wastewater laboratory technologists manage the technical processes used for water purification and wastewater disposal. They also ensure that these processes are environmentally safe and are compliant with industry standards and methods.

At a glance

Imagine you are in charge of managing and administering a project to ensure the quality of water at a site near a landfill. You have been working at inspecting the area to ensure there has been no contamination or discharge into the near-by water. You are a water and water and wastewater technologist ensuring the quality of water in the surrounding area meets certain standards. As a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you are responsible for developing plans for monitoring water and wastewater quality. You sample, monitor, test, and analyze water and wastewater according to industry standards. Testing is done before, during, and after treatment. Water analysis will require efficient use of sampling and monitoring equipment and analytical instruments. Finally, you generate water quality reports based on your analysis of the water data. You work requires you to work in many different environments. You spend time in the field operating equipment used to monitor the water and wastewater. You are often in the lab, analyzing your data and samples. You also spend time in the office managing projects and writing reports. When each day comes to an end, you feel good about ensuring water quality.

Job duties

Duties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist:
  • Develop water quality monitoring plans
  • Inspect sites for evidence of discharge into water courses and for visible contamination near buried tanks, landfill or dumping sites
  • Collect, prepare, and analyze water and wastewater samples before, during, and after treatment using laboratory and field techniques
  • Select appropriate sampling methods that include sampling frequency and location, data capture and analytical equipment, and quality assurance methods
  • Operate and maintain sampling and monitoring equipment and analytical instruments
  • Interpret water quality data and generate water quality reports

Work environment

Water and wastewater laboratory technologists work in a variety of locations, including, but not limited to: In the field:
  • Operate field sampling and monitoring equipment and data recorders
In the office:
  • Manage and administering projects
  • Coordinate resources to implement work plans
  • Instruct, training and education others
  • Write technical reports
In the lab:
  • Analyze data and samples
  • Use analytical instrument and techniques to determine characterization of constituents

Where to work

  • Wastewater or water treatment plants
  • Public sector
  • Mining industry
  • Environmental consulting firms

Education & requirements

In most cases, the minimum education requirement to work as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist is a college technical diploma. The following post secondary programs are most applicable to a career in this field:
  • Water and wastewater technology
  • Chemical technology
  • Pollution abatement control
Many water and wastewater laboratory technologists have additional training in repairing mechanical and electrical equipment. Most provinces require certification for wastewater collection and treatment operators. Operator certification has three requirements: education, experience, and a written exam. If you are a high school student considering a career as a water and wastewater laboratory technologist, you should have a strong interest in:
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Biology
  • Computer Science