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The Water & Wastewater Systems Operators Apprenticeship Program

At the Delaware Rural Water Association (DRWA), we are highly aware of the need for skilled water and wastewater system operators and specialists. We have been working diligently to address this need. The Water Systems Operation Specialist Apprenticeship Program was registered by Delaware’s Department of Labor in May 2019 and the first graduating class of apprentices completed the program in the spring of 2021.

Why should you become a water or wastewater apprentice?

  • Learn a lucrative skill without accumulating any debt
  • Unlimited earning potential; beginning salaries average around $29,000. Increases with experience/education to averages of $60,000-$100,000
  • Experienced operators have the ability to live and work anywhere they choose
  • You will never be stuck in one department doing the same thing for the rest of your life; unlimited opportunity to learn and grow
  • Use your love of technology to become an industry leader and a first implementer of innovative operating systems for water and wastewater management
  • Hands-on training that will prepare you for real on-the-job situations
  • Low cost to you of $100 per year

Help us preserve our most valuable resource. Apply to become a water or wastewater apprentice today:

Begin the application process by clicking this link: and follow these instructions to submit your application:

1. Click the RED “Get Started Button”
2. Create a username and password
3. After creating the account click the BLUE “Login Page” button
4. Login with the username and password you created
5. Begin a new application

Applications will be accepted on a rolling, year-round basis. For those unable to utilize the online application process, arrangements can be made through the DRWA office by contacting the Apprenticeship Coordinator, Joliene Ivory, at or by calling (302) 490-1070.


WATER AND WASTEWATER UTILITY EMPLOYERS ARE ENCOURAGED TO CONTACT DRWA at (302) 490-1070 IF THEY ARE INTERESTED IN HAVING ANY CURRENT/NEW EMPLOYEES ATTEND THE PROGRAM. We offer an in-depth training program that will prepare your water or wastewater operator for any on-the-job situation and a wonderful staff of instructors who are all industry professionals.

Why do we need the apprenticeship program?

In the next decade, 30-50% of water professionals are expected to retire. This program was created as a direct response to our need to transfer the knowledge of water and wastewater professionals to the next generations before their retirement. By enrolling in this program, the apprentice will become a member of a valued and knowledgeable team that protects our most valuable resource, water.

The US Department of Labor describes Registered Apprenticeships as employer-driven programs that combine On-the-Job Learning (OJL) with related classroom instruction to increase the apprentice’s skill level and wages. It’s an effective strategy for connecting employers with qualified workers looking to learn new skills while embarking on a rewarding career.

What does the program entail?

  • A genuine commitment to learning the theory & practice of the chosen occupation
    • 4,000 hours (OJL) (credit may be given for hours already earned through employment)
    • 288 hours formal classroom training
    • Classes are held at DRWA: One-6 hour class, once a week, for 24 weeks; running October through April (2 consecutive years)
  • Progressively increasing wage schedule
  • “Earn while you learn” approach – work for a local employer to complete your hours


Who should apply?

The program is open to qualified applicants currently employed or seeking employment in the water or wastewater service industry. ***Qualified applicants will be referred to participating employers on a 1st come, 1st served basis. Credit will be given for on-the-job hours already earned. Apprentices must be employed by a Delaware water utility to satisfy the 4,000-hour On-the-Job Learning (OJL) program requirement.



Orientation to Small Water System Operation
Operator Basic Math
Plant Safety and Security
Disinfection & Lab Procedures
Laws & Regulations
Distribution Systems
Distribution Operation & Maintenance
ASSE Backflow
Utility Management Certification


Work ProcessHours
Tools, Equipment, and Workplace Safety240
Vehicles and Specialized Equipment400
System Operations and Maintenance1,920
Quality Control960
Logistics, Reports and Supervision480
TOTAL Hours4,000

Minimum Qualifications:

These are the minimum requirements to be eligible for the apprenticeship program.


Apprentices must not be less than 18 years of age. Proof of age is required.


A high school diploma, General Educational Development (GED) equivalency or other high school equivalency credential is required.

Applicants must submit a DD-214 to verify military training and/or experience if they are a veteran and wish to receive consideration for such training/experience.


Applicants will be physically capable of performing the essential functions of the apprenticeship program, with or without reasonable accommodation, and without posing a direct threat to the health and safety of the individual or others.

Drug Screening & Background Check

Pursuant to federal guidance all employees of public water and wastewater systems will be subject to a drug screen and a background check prior to employment.

Driver’s License

Apprentices must possess a current driver’s license.


As an EEO sponsor, DRWA 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.


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