College of Arts, Sciences & Education
Water Distribution CAS
Pursue an industry career with a hands-on Water Distribution education.
The Water Distribution certificate program at MSU-Northern is a one year program that prepares you for successful employment in various settings. Integrating practical experience with water distribution technology and theory, the program helps you build skills and knowledge to give you an edge with employers.
- Prepare to enter a field that has a high demand for employees with the required certification to operate and maintain a water distribution system and with a strong education.
- Pair the water distribution program with one of MSU-Northern's complementary programs in Agricultural Technology, Applied Science, Biology, Business Technology, Business Administration, Computer Information Systems, Civil Engineering Technology, Electrical Technology or Plumbing Technology and develop an even broader skill set.
Water Distribution Education Program: Career-focused. Experiential.
- Earn a Certificate of Applied Science in Water Distribution from MSU-Northern's water quality program and be immediately prepared to pursue full-time employment in the industry.
- Become an integral part of protecting public health and safety by providing quality drinking water to Montana and the Nation.
- Gain certification from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality Operator Certification Program as a Class 1 Water Distribution Operator upon successful completion of an exam and fulfilling experience requirement. Reciprocity available with many states.
- Achieve certification by the American Backflow Prevention Association as a Backflow Prevention Assembly Tester upon successful completion of an exam. Recognized in 38 states, District of Columbia, US Military, Guam, Japan and South Korea.
Water Distribution Faculty: Knowledgeable. Dedicated. Student-Focused.
- Learn about distribution methods and technologies for surface water and groundwater, laboratory and sampling techniques, related state and federal regulations, and safety through classroom and hands-on learning with MSU-Northern faculty and professionals currently in the field.
- Interact with MSU-Northern's water quality faculty and industry leaders that have years of experience and advanced knowledge in industry practices.
- Experience effective learning and success by working with program staff online, in small groups and one-on-one.
Water Distribution Courses: Online. Statewide. On Campus.
- Course Location - By integrating MSU-Northern online courses with METC courses of a two to six day workshop format in various locations across Montana and requiring on campus lab work three to four weekends per semester for just one course the Water Distribution Certificate program does not require students to relocate to MSU-Northern's campus.
- Technical Education - Build a base of knowledge with program courses covering topics in water distribution, testing, environmental health and safety, rules and regulations, water hydraulics, backflow prevention, and various technologies.
- Real-world Experience - Hands on backflow prevention assembly testing, water quality laboratory testing, one-on-one interaction with water distribution operators currently in the field, and tours of statewide water distribution facilities and systems will provide students with a combination of real-world experience and technical background.
Career Outlook for Water Distribution Operators and Managers
- Graduates with a Water Distribution certificate from MSU-Northern's Water Quality Technology program pursue employment opportunities in a variety of settings and roles as municipal, industrial and private water distribution system operators and managers, laboratory technicians and managers, technical assistance providers, county, state and federal agency regulators and field personnel, manufacturer's representatives, and engineering and consulting firm field technicians.
- Statewide – Montana law states that except as provided in subsection (3), it is unlawful for a person, firm, or corporation, both municipal and private, operating a water distribution to operate the system unless the competency of the operator is certified by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (MCA 37-42-302 Unlawful to Operate Plant or System Without Certified Operator). As of 2013, 25% of certified water and wastewater operators in Montana were nearing retirement and 56 systems were operating without a certified water and/or wastewater operator.
- Nationwide - the two premier water and wastewater professional organizations, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Water Environment Federation (WEF), identified the highest level of need for non-administrative employees was in the area of certified operators in both drinking and wastewater in 2011. AWWA has also identified in its State of the Industry report workforce issues as one of the top five topics of concern. It is now estimated that 40% - 50% of the workforce will retire in the next 10 years. In addition, the US EPA has identified the water and wastewater industry as an area for returning military veterans to find employment.
Do you have questions about a career in water distribution? Please contact these organizations.
Dean of Education, Arts & Science and Nursing
Office: Cowan Hall 105
Phone: (406) 265-3768
Director, Montana Environmental Training Center
Office: Hagener Science Center 110
Phone: (406) 781-2298