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Apprenticeship

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 specialists, and 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.

Interested in applying to become an apprentice?

Begin the application process by clicking this link: https://apprenticeship.nrwa.org 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  jolienedrwa@gmail.com or by calling (302) 490-1070.

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, employers will have the opportunity to get ahead of the curve, facilitate On-the-Job Learning (OJL), and create the next generation of skilled water and wastewater technicians.

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. Apprentices must be employed by a Delaware water utility to satisfy the 4,000-hour On-the-Job Learning (OJL) program requirement. ***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.


APPRENTICE benefits:

  • Earn while you learn
  • Pathway to many different career options within water and wastewater
  • Multiple related exit pathways (continuing education, lateral movements within the company)
  • Receive increasing wages as new skills are mastered
  • Upon completion, receive a nationally recognized journeyperson certificate

EMPLOYER benefits:

  • Decreased worker turnover by increasing employee loyalty and productivity
  • Apprentices work while they learn, so you can immediately fill vacant positions
  • Training is customized towards either the water or wastewater sector
  • Keep your employees up to date on skills and technology
  • Tailor the skills of your incoming group of employees

CLASSROOM CURRICULUM TOPICS – 2 Years, 144 Hours Per Year

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

ON-THE-JOB LEARNING OBJECTIVES

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

Minimum Qualifications:

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

Age

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

Education

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.

Physical

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.

EQUAL OPPORTUNITY PLEDGE

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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