Upgrading Your Certificate or Licence


In Ontario, there are five different classes of certificates and licences for operators of classified drinking water or wastewater systems, beginning at the Operator-in-Training level. Operators can obtain a higher level Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 operator’s certificate or licence by fulfilling specific experience and education requirements. Generally, the higher the class, the more experience and education is required.

This page is for operators looking to upgrade their current certificate or licence to a Class 1, 2, 3, or 4. It includes information on the steps to obtain a higher level of certification, the different requirements for each class of certification, information on the application process and fees, and the forms you are required to complete and submit.

If you want to find out how to get your very first certificate or licence in Ontario (i.e. how to become an Operator-in-Training), please visit the Getting Your Certificate or Licence for the First Time page.

Upgrade_Diagram

To upgrade to a higher level certificate or licence, you must complete the following:

All classes of certification, regardless of the level, require the following:

  1. proof of grade 12 or equivalent (if not previously submitted);
  2. successful completion (70% or higher) of the relevant exam; and
  3. operational experience gained under a valid certificate/licence.

Post-secondary education or Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are required for Class 3 and 4. For specific requirements of each class of certificate or licence, click on the appropriate tab below.

Class 1Class 2Class3Class 4Water Quality Analyst

Education or CEUs For Drinking Water certificates, completion of the Entry Level Drinking Water Operator Course (ELC).
Operating Experience 1 year operational experience (no substitutions are allowed).

Operating Experience 3 years operational experience
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (1 year 6 months) can be substituted by using CEUs

Education or CEUs 2 years of relevant post-secondary education (90 CEUs)
Operating Experience 4 years operational experience
OIC Experience 2 years in a Class 2, 3, or 4 system
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (2 years) can be substituted by using CEUs above the minimum 90 required OR using experience gained in a different type of system at a ratio
CEU Substitutions Up to 50% of the CEU requirement (45 CEUs) can be substituted by using OIC experience above the minimum 2 years required

Education or CEUs 4 years of relevant post-secondary education (180 CEUs)
Operating Experience 4 years operational experience
OIC Experience 2 years in a Class 3, or 4 system
Experience Substitutions Up to 50% of the operational experience requirements (2 years) can be substituted by using CEUs above the minimum 180 required OR using experience gained in a different type of system at a ratio
CEU Substitutions Up to 50% of the CEU requirement (90 CEUs) can be substituted by using OIC experience above the minimum 2 years required

Education or CEUs 1 year of experience performing tests in a drinking water system OR completion of Director approved training

Drinking Water Conditional Operator CertificateWastewater Conditional Operator Licence

The Director may issue a conditional operator certificate for operators holding any type and class of municipal residential subsystem certificate (except for an operator-in-training certificate) and for operators holding a limited subsystem certificate.

The Director may issue a conditional certificate if:

  1. the owner or operating authority that employs or has offered to employ the applicant satisfies the Director that they cannot obtain the services of an operator of the type and class required under this regulation (for example, if an owner of a Class III water treatment subsystem is unable to find an operator holding a Class III water treatment certificate); and
  2. the owner or operating authority gives both the applicant and the Director a written commitment to help the applicant comply with all the conditions of the subsystem; and
  3. the required fee is paid.

The Director may issue a conditional operator licence for operators holding any type and class of licence (except for an operator-in-training licence).

The Director may issue a conditional licence if:

  1. the owner or operating authority that employs or has offered to employ the applicant satisfies the Director that they cannot obtain the services of an operator of the type and class required under this regulation (for example, if an owner of a Class III wastewater treatment facility is unable to find an operator holding a Class III wastewater treatment licence); and
  2. the owner or operating authority gives both the applicant and the Director a written commitment to help the applicant comply with all the conditions of the facility; and
  3. the required fee is paid.


You must complete and submit a separate Conditional Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application for each certificate or license you wish to request.

You must complete and submit a separate application form for each certificate or license you wish to hold.

FORMS AND FEES FOR CERTIFICATE/LICENCE REQUESTED
Type of Certificate/Licence Drinking Water Certificate Wastewater Licence WQA Certificate Reciprocity Certificate/Licence
Issuing Form Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application Form 2136E – Drinking Water Certificate and Wastewater Licence Application
Fee $175 per certificate/licence requested

Please ensure that your application is complete by filling out all the required sections, providing the appropriate signatures, and including the required attachments and payment information.

Upgrade applications take up to 30 days to process on receipt of a COMPLETE application and payment of the correct fee. Incomplete applications may be returned.

Submit all applications to:

Ontario Water Wastewater Certification Office
302 The East Mall, Suite 600
Etobicoke, ON M9B 6C7
Fax: (416) 231-2107

Payment is required with each completed application, and can be made by Visa, MasterCard, cheque, or money order. If paying by cheque or money order, please make the payment out to the Minister of Finance.


Do I need to answer all the questions on the form?

Yes. This includes answering yes or no to both the full time and back up operator questions.


Do I need to submit a job description with my application?

Yes. A copy of your current job description must be signed by your manager/ORO and submitted with your upgrade application. If you are submitting more than one upgrade at the same time, only one copy is required.

If you have previously submitted your job description, then you don’t need to submit it again. If your position has changed since your last application, you will need to submit a copy of your current job description.


If I hold a drinking water Operator-in-Training (OIT) certificate, am I considered a limited subsystem operator?

If you hold a valid Water Treatment OIT certificate, you can operate limited surface water or limited ground water systems. If you hold a valid Water Distribution and Supply OIT certificate, you can operate limited groundwater systems.


I received an email or letter requesting additional information. What should I do?

Provide the requested information. If you have questions about what is being requested, contact the analyst who sent the request.

Any information you submit regarding operational or OIC experience will need to be signed by your manager/ORO. Make sure your name and/or Operator ID number is clearly written on any submission.


What substitutions are possible for Class 2, 3 or 4 certificates or licences?

While no substitutions are allowed for Class 1 certificates or licences, Class 2, 3 or 4 applicants may be permitted to make substitutions for up to 50% of their operational experience requirement OR 50% of their CEU requirements (if applicable). In addition, Class 3 or 4 applicants may be permitted to make substitutions for up to 50% of the OIC requirement.

For detailed information on the possible substitutions, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.


How does the ministry count experience if an operator works part-time?

The ministry considers 1,800 hours per year to equal full-time employment. A part-time operator will be credited the percent of full-time employment they work as an operator. An on-call operator will only be credited experience for the time they actually perform operating functions. No experience will be credited for time spent ‘standing by’.

Operators who work part-time as an operator but are responsible for the subsystem on a full-time basis will receive one-year experience credit for each year worked, for each different type of subsystem for which they are responsible.

For operators who spend the vast majority of their time performing non-operating functions, it might take many years to acquire the necessary operating experience. Therefore, for Class 1 applicants, the ministry will credit one year experience for five consecutive years performing operating functions on a regular basis throughout each year.

For detailed information on experience, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.


I am a full-time operator but work in different types of subsystems (i.e. WT, WDS, and WWC). How will my experience be calculated?

A full time operator working in more than one type of system can be credited with one year of experience in each type for each year worked, as long as they operate the systems in the same manner as other operators and are operating to the full extent of the system.

Example: A full-time operator in a water treatment subsystem will be credited with one year of operating experience toward a water treatment certificate.

Example: A full-time operator who operates in water treatment, water distribution, wastewater treatment, and wastewater collection will be credited with one year of operating experience toward each of these certificates/licenses as long as they are operating to the full extent of the system.

For detailed information, please see Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator and Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator.


How do I get my certificate or licence from another province recognized?

Please see the Out-of-Province Applicants page.


What is the difference between an Overall Responsible Operator (ORO) and an Operator-in-Charge (OIC)??

The owner or operating authority must designate an ORO, and must also designate one or more operators as OIC for the subsystem/facility they operate. These are two different roles, although they can be performed by the same operator.

For detailed information, please see Guideline 5.1 – Overall Responsible Operator vs. Operator-in-Charge.


The following guidance documents can help you understand various aspects of the Drinking Water and Wastewater Operator Certification Program.

They cover different scenarios that may apply to you, e.g., you work as a part-time operator, or are a contractor etc.

Certification Guide for Operators and Water Quality Analysts of Drinking Water Systems Review this guide for information on the requirements for a drinking water operator or water quality analyst.
Licensing Guide for Operators of Wastewater Facilities Review this guide for information on the requirements for a wastewater operator.
Entry-Level Course for Drinking Water Operators A fact sheet with information on the Entry Level Course (ELC) required for Class 1 drinking water operators.
Guideline 3.3 – Water Quality Analyst Experience and Director Approved Course For those seeking to obtain a water quality analyst certificate, this guideline details the experience and education requirements.
Guideline 3.4 – Experience as a Drinking Water Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a drinking water certificate, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Guideline 3.4b – Experience as a Wastewater Operator This guideline outlines the experience requirements for a wastewater licence, as well as the potential substitutions which could be made.
Guideline 3.5 – Reciprocity Recognition of Certificates Obtained in Other Jurisdictions This guideline explains the process for having an out-of-province certificate or licence recognized in Ontario.
Guideline 3.10 – Accepted CEUs to Upgrade Certificates/Licences Review this guideline for further information on the types of CEUs which can be used for class 3 and 4 upgrade applications.
Guideline 5.1 – Overall Responsible Operator vs. Operator-in-Charge Read this if you require clarification on the different responsibilities of an ORO and an OIC.
Guideline 5.3 – Obtaining Experience for Contractors This guideline applies to operators who do not work on a full time basis for a municipality. Seasonal or part-time operators are not necessarily contract employees.