Apprenticeship Program

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NRWA State Affiliates with Registered Apprenticeship Programs

The Need for Apprentices

It takes more than 380,000 highly skilled water and wastewater professionals to ensure the public supply of safe drinking water and to protect our lakes, streams and groundwater. If there are water and wastewater services in your community, state laws require that there must be certified operators in responsible charge of those facilities. This means that even in the most rural of communities, job opportunities exist in the water and wastewater industry.  

Over the next decade, the water sector is expected to lose between 30 – 50 percent of its workforce to retirement. Many of these water professionals have worked at the same utility for the majority of their careers and they will depart with decades of valuable institutional knowledge. Furthermore, advancements in water treatment and supply technology have increased the skills and training required of this workforce. Our industry must address the need to train the next generation of skilled workers in order to protect and provide what is arguably the most valuable resource that is essential to all life—clean water. 

About the NRWA Apprenticeship Program

The NRWA Apprenticeship Program provides guideline standards of apprenticeship to State Rural Water Associations for the adoption and approval of standardized registered apprenticeship training in their respective state. NRWA Staff provides assistance and training to the State Apprenticeship Coordinator and a suite of tools to assist in the administration of their programs. With little to no cost, apprentices will attend an approximate 2-year training program made up of classroom technical instruction and on-the-job training, providing apprentices the tools necessary to become successful operations specialists in their communities. During the apprenticeship program, apprentices will earn-while-they-learn with knowledgeable, passionate people who strive to deliver clean drinking water to their community and treat wastewater before returning to the environment. Students start the program with a job and emerge with a solid and secure career as either a Water Operations Specialist or Wastewater Operations Specialist.  

Benefits of Apprenticeship 

  • Earn & Learn: From their first day of work, apprentices receive a paycheck that is guaranteed to increase as their training progresses. Apprentices also complete a combination of job-related instruction and hands-on training at the job site leading to a nationally-recognized, portable credential. 
  • Hands-on career training: Apprentices receive practical on-the-job training resulting in improved skills and competencies as well as the potential to earn college credit toward an associate’s or bachelor’s degree. 
  • A career: Once the apprenticeship is complete, workers are on their way to a successful long-term career with a competitive salary and little or no educational debt. 
  • National credential: When an apprentice graduates from a career training program, he or she earns a certified portable credential accepted by industries and employers across the nation. 
  • Community Impact: apprenticeship offers an opportunity for the apprentice to make a difference in their own communities. They will be providing clean water to their family and friends. That is surely something to take pride in! 

Who Can Apply? 

To be eligible, appplicants must:  

  • Be 18 years old or older 
  • Have a high school diploma or GED 
  • Have a valid driver’s license 
  • Be physically capable of performing the essential functions of the apprenticeship program 

*Note: Please review your State’s apprenticeship program standards for any additional eligibility requirements that may exist. 

More Information

Are you ready to apply for an apprenticeship opportunity? Applications are accepted year-round! To start the enrollment process click “Apply Now.”  

Non-Discrimination Statement

NRWA and our State Affiliate Registered Apprenticeship Program sponsors will not discriminate against apprenticeship applicants or apprentices based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), sexual orientation, genetic information, or because they are an individual with a disability or a person 40 years old or older.  The sponsor will take affirmative action to provide equal opportunity in apprenticeship and will operate the apprenticeship program as required under Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, part 30.

Rural Water Partnership Pledge: Committing to the Future

Those of us in the Water and Wastewater industry are sure to be aware of the many workforce challenges that we face together as an industry. Our industry is slated to lose between 30-50% of our workforce this decade. NRWA asks that you join us by signing the pledge below, in a national effort and campaign that focuses on the positive benefits of building a more diverse workforce.