Careers in the Water Industry

The Queensland water industry is responsible for providing safe, secure and sustainable water and sewerage services to 4.9 million constituents and employs just over 6,000 workers. Common jobs in the water industry include:

  • water and wastewater operators
  • engineers
  • trades (plumbing, mechanical and electrical)
  • science/technical professionals
  • management and business support

The industry faces skills shortages in many of these roles. To find out more about qualifications to join the water industry, visit: www.qldwater.com.au/Skills_Vocational_Education.

What's great about working in the water industry?

You are contributing to the health of your community by providing safe drinking water

Protecting your local environment with appropriately treated wastewater

Working with rapidly advancing technology and innovative systems

Flexible workplace that supports your work/life balance with some requirements for after-hours work

Being part of a workforce where you can find jobs anywhere in the world!

The water industry plays an important role in the health of of local communities. For example, the recycled water produced by South Burnett Regional Council is used to irrigate the sportsgrounds, making it a great place for locals to stay fit and healthy. Watch this video to learn more about the recycling process used to ensure the water is safe to use.

This short video from Australian Industry Standards (AIS) provides more information about career options in the water industry.

Treatment Plant Operators

Water Treatment Plant Operators are responsible for ensuring the supply of safe and reliable drinking water to communities.

Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators ensure that sewage is treated to an environmentally acceptable level before it is discharged back into the environment.

There are lots of opportunities in the Queensland Water Industry for Treatment Plant Operators, especially in regional locations. Treatment Plant Operators continuously look to improve the quality of the systems and processes they operate to deliver maximum public health and environmental benefits.

You could work in any number of different Water or Wastewater Treatment Plants, ranging from basic to highly technologically advanced.

What do they do?

Oversee the operation of pumps, gauges, aerators and other treatment plant equipment

Carry out minor maintenance/repairs to equipment

Monitor water and/or wastewater flows

Sampling and testing of water and wastewater

Ensuring compliance with various standards and legislation

Chemical dosing and monitoring - including remote monitoring systems

Typical career path

Study requirements

There is currently a high demand for water industry operators.

Treatment Operator Jobs require completion of a traineeship, usually a Certificate II or Certificate III in Water Industry Operations. Find out more about these qualifications and Registered Training providers.

Water industry employers provide great support for trainee operators and the Queensland Government provides significant funding through the User Choice Program, meaning completing your water operations qualification is typically free.

The water industry has developed its own competency standard for Treatment Plant Operators to recognise the skills and career paths of experienced Operators. Find out more about Operator Certification.

This fact sheet provides more information about Treatment Operator roles and responsibilities.

Download the fact sheet

WIOA Resources

The Water Industry Operators Association (WIOA) has a range of videos promoting various roles in the industry. 

See more at wioa.org.au/resources/#2

Career Profile

Ali Sacipovic - Wastewater Treatment Operator

Ali Sacipovic is a Wastewater Treatment Operator with Fraser Coast Regional Council. He commenced a traineeship with council before securing a role as an Assistant Wastewater Treatment Operator and was then promoted to his current role. He is responsible for the operations of the Aubinville Sewerage Treatment Plant in Maryborough.

The plant was constructed almost 80 years ago and has had a number of augmentations since that time. Due to the age of some components and others reaching capacity, Ali faces a number of challenges operating the Aubinville STP while works are underway for further augmentations.

But Ali doesn’t let these constraints prevent improvements being made at an operational level and he believes that things can always be made better with a focus on continual improvement of practices to save time and money and increase safety. He is always eager to assist other team members and enthusiastically takes on roles with greater responsibility whenever there is an opportunity. 

Ali was announced as the qldwater Young Operator of the Year in 2019 and for his prize will join an operations tour to New Zealand in 2020.

Network Operators

Network operations and maintenance workers in the water industry ensure the systems used to supply drinking water to communities and collect wastewater for treatment are in good working order. A lot of these systems are underground.

The work is mostly outdoors and requires practical, hands on skills. Whilst there is no minimum qualification, you usually need water industry training or a trade qualification to work on water networks. These courses are often undertaken through a traineeship or apprenticeship. Given the practical nature of the work, there are a range of occupational health and safety training requirements before performing network maintenance or repairs.

From cities to regional and remote communities, there are many opportunities to work in network operations and maintenance.

What do they do?

Maintenance and repairs of pipe networks, pump stations and reservoirs

Monitor and operate network systems

Installation of domestic and commercial water connections and pipe networks

Assisting with disaster recovery operations

Testing hydrants and water meters

Trade-related activities such as electrical, plumbing, fitting and welding

Typical career path

Other paths could include:

  • Operations Assistant/Maintenance Assistant/Meter Reader/Compliance Officer
  • Maintenance Operator/Water Distribution System Operator/Wastewater Collection System Operator/Customer Services Officer/Meter Restrictor/Drainlayer
  • Operations & Maintenance Supervisor/Maintenance Team Leader/Reticulation Coordinator/Plumber
  • Instrumentation Technician/Project Supervisor/Planner
  • Operations Manager (Engineer)/ Project Manager

Study requirements

There is currently a high demand for network operators.

Network Operator Jobs require completion of a traineeship, usually a Certificate II or Certificate III in Water Industry Operations or Water Industry Worker Development Program. Find out more about these qualifications and Registered Training providers.

Water industry employers provide great support for trainee operators and the Queensland Government provides significant funding through the User Choice Program, meaning completing your water operations qualification is typically free.

The water industry has developed its own competency training program for network operators, the Water Industry Worker program. Find out more about this initiative.

Apprenticeships in Plumbing, Electrical, Fitters and Welders are also sought after in the water industry.

This fact sheet provides more information about Network Operator roles and responsibilities.

Download the fact sheet

WIOA Resources

The Water Industry Operators Association (WIOA) has a range of videos promoting various roles in the industry. This video provides a great overview of the tasks performed by an Operations and Maintenance Technician. 

From Tools to COO

In this presentation Troy Pettiford tells the story of his progression from tools to COO, beginning as plumber years ago to today where he is Whitsunday Regional Council’s Chief Operating Officer. The steps that he took have involved many changes in outlook: from a task oriented on-the-tools operator, to being required to managing a small team, to now where his role requires a completely different strategic focus in order to operate effectively as a director, board member and chairperson of the qldwater TRG. Troy describes the key skills that he has developed over the years with the help of mentors along the way, including self-awareness, communication, delegation, and encourages participation in mentoring programs to develop the next generation of leaders.

Career Profile

Spencer Stacey - Leading Hand Ganger

Spencer is a Water Industry Worker at Gold Coast Water and Waste, part of the City of Gold Coast. His role as a Leading Hand Ganger requires him to carry out planned and reactive maintenance work on the water and sewerage network.

Spencer enjoys solving customers’ water supply or wastewater issues and regularly receives high praise from customers for his professionalism and customer service.

Spencer loves learning new skills and taking on new challenges. He has been instrumental in establishing councils leak detection programme using the latest technology and this has allowed him and his team to plan their main laying and connection works.

Spencer is very focused on ensuring the health and safety of him and his team and has been trained in working in confined spaces, first aid and risk assessment. Training is an important part of his role and he is part of the Water Industry Worker development program.

Spencer was recognised as qldwater’s Operator of the Year (Civil/All-Rounder) in 2019.

Potential Employers

  • Local Councils: Find your nearest Council here.
  • Unitywater: Servicing Moreton Bay, the Sunshine Coast and Noosa.
  • Urban Utilities: Servicing Brisbane, Ipswich, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and Somerset Councils.
  • Seqwater: The Bulk Water Supply Authority for SEQ responsible for catchments from Gympie down to the NSW border and west towards the Toowoomba ranges.
  • Sunwater: Bulk water supplies for agriculture, urban and industrial customers thoughout Queensland.
  • Utilita: Joint venture between Broadspectrum and Downer Utilities servicing Urban Utilities.
  • Ventia: Operations and maintenance of water assets.
  • Veolia: Complete municipal water management services.
  • Trility: Delivers water, wastewater and environmental services.
  • Downer: Provides complete water lifecycle solutions for municipal and industrial water users.

Career Resources from Potential Employers

Unitywater

Unitywater has a range of excellent resources for water industry workers, including career pathways and work experience opportunities. Check out their website.

Seqwater

Seqwater has a range of videos and an education page called H20 Kids with lots of resources. This video was produced for International Women's Day to celebrate the wide variety of roles filled by females in the organisation.

Sunwater Digital Open Day for Dams

In 2020, Sunwater used augmented reality to host its usual Dam Open Days online. Participants can learn more about Callide and Burdekin Falls dams including how our dams work, safety at storages, and how to prepare for weather events.

A web-based Virtual Reality (VR) version of the experience is available and can be viewed on desktop computer. Sunwater’s web-VR experience is available here. To access the features of the web-VR tool, use right mouse click to move direction, and scroll to zoom in and out.

Fact Sheets

What is your future role in the Queensland Water Industry?

Find your favourite job category from the list and refer to the Fact Sheet for further information about the role and how you can get started in the industry.

Fact Sheet 1: Trades

If you enjoy practical and manual work, want a hands on approach to work and like to be action orientated, then a role in Trades in the water industry could be for you. Roles span across a variety of activities and include electricians, plumbers, fitters and welders.

Fact Sheet 2: Business Services

Do you have good communication skills and enjoy problem solving, planning and organising? Then a career in Business Services could interest you. Business Services roles include human resources, customer services, contract management, marketing and information and technology services. 

Fact Sheet 3: Treatment Operations

If you like mathematics and science, enjoy roles with a high level of responsibility and want a role that benefits your local community; then the water industry provides numerous opportunities to work at water and sewage treatment plants across the State.

Fact Sheet 4: Field Services

If you enjoy practical and manual work, have an interest in how things work and like to work as part of a team, then field services may be the area for you. Field services are responsible for the construction and ongoing repair and maintenance of sewerage systems and water supply networks.

Fact Sheet 5: Environment

People with critical and enquiring minds and an interest in conservation would enjoy the opportunities presented in the water sector, where environmental roles help to better manage water resources, improve water quality and identify and manage new or existing impacts on the environment.

Fact Sheet 6: Engineering

Water engineers need good problem solving skills and need to enjoy working with computers. Engineers work in planning, designing, building or analysing the hardware for collecting, storing, purifying, delivering and managing water. There are a variety of Engineering fields employed in the Water industry including Chemical, Civil or Environmental Engineering.

Fact Sheet 7: Policy and Planning

If you enjoy problem solving, have a strong analytical mind and like processing complex information, then Policy and Planning could be of interest. Policy and planning professionals cover a broad area and are central to providing workable and innovative solutions to the problems faced in the water industry.