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Flow into a Career in Water Quality

Water Quality treatment plant

Water is one of the few basic human needs, but imagine what life would be like without easy access to clean, reliable running water. Thanks to trained water quality technicians and innovative technology, we don’t have to.

Each day, municipalities and industries generate billions of gallons of wastewater that must be collected, analyzed and treated. Water quality technicians are responsible for ensuring the water we use is safe and that discharge water is processed effectively.

“There are a lot of new regulations coming out with phosphorus being a growing issue in our water here in Wisconsin,” Ryan St. John, Moraine Park’s Water Quality Technology instructor, said. “There are also lead and copper issues as we try to get the lead out of all municipal watermains and customer laterals (pipes connecting a home or business to the public water supply system) across Wisconsin and nationwide. These new regulations are costing municipalities a lot of money but are necessary in ensuring the water we are distributing is safe and clean.”

As water quality issues continue to rise in the U.S., so do career opportunities in the water technology industry. Moraine Park’s Water Quality Technology program is a two-year, online associate degree program that prepares students for a rewarding technical career through robust training and industry expertise.

“The nice thing about the Water Quality Technology program here at Moraine Park is we cover both water and wastewater,” St. John said. “Other programs across the country are typically geared toward one or the other, so you really get a well-rounded degree here at MPTC.”

St. John graduated from Moraine Park’s Water Quality Technology program in 2011. He completed his required internship with the Village of Hortonville and stayed on as the Utility Superintendent for 11 years. He began his first year teaching at Moraine Park in 2021.

MPTC Water Quality Instructor - Ryan St. John

“When I first started the program at MPTC back in 2009, I had reservations about it being online because I wasn’t sure how I would gain experience in the field, but I ultimately wanted the flexibility of being able to work at the same time,” St. John said. “After starting the program, we got to go on several tours meeting people in the industry, which allowed us to network and gain insight into the field. The internship during my last semester gave me hands-on experience with both water and wastewater. The classes that you take in the program and the research you conduct give you all the tools you need to be successful.”

Some larger municipalities across the state of Wisconsin require an associate degree to work as an operator or technician. Earning a degree in this industry allows for higher wages and more career opportunities. The Wisconsin median salary for recent graduates of the program is $55,600.

Possible careers include Environmental Technician, Field Service Technician, Wastewater System Technician and more. There are also positions available at breweries, as they treat their water and wastewater, at large dairies where they process the milk, food handling companies such as packaging plants and harvesting companies that process food.

The water quality degree at Moraine Park can also be used to prepare for a career in water or wastewater engineering.

Currently, Moraine Park’s Water Quality Technology program has an agreement with UW-Oshkosh allowing students to transfer directly into the Environmental Engineering Technology Bachelor of Science degree program.

March 15th, 2023by Emilie Wilson