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Sewerage Operative Profile


This Section of the site details information that you might find useful if you are looking to secure employment or require further details regarding working as a Sewerage Operative. This page details the following Information:-

  • Finding Suitable Work as a Sewerage Operative
  • Working Duties Expected
  • Hours and Environment
  • Working Skills Required
  • Training Requirements
  • Salary Expectations
  • Trade Information
  • Other useful Sewerage Operative Work Information

Finding Suitable Work

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Working Duties Expected

Water distribution/sewerage operatives install, repair and maintain the distribution, drainage and sewerage systems which take water into, and sewerage away from, homes and businesses. Duties are varied and include excavation and reinstatement of highways and other areas to lay and repair mains and services, using closed circuit TV to locate and identify buried plant and to clear blockages in sewerage pipes, and installation of meters.

The work involves use and maintenance of vehicles, plant and tools such as drills, high pressure hoses and lifting equipment, and notifying engineers when equipment is faulty. Operatives erect warning signs prior to beginning work, and make records of plant and materials used. They may be involved in notifying service users about disruptions and reinstatement of services. Awareness of health and safety and environmental legislation is important.

Hours and Environment

Water distribution/sewerage operatives work 37 hours a week, sometimes covering different shifts, which include nights. In severe emergencies work may be required at short notice. Part-time work is unusual.

They work outside in all weathers, or inside large sewerage and water systems. Protective clothing including breathing apparatus may be used, as conditions can be wet and smelly as well as dusty and dirty. The work involves bending and lifting and can involve direct contact with unpleasant substances. Physical fitness and strength are needed to use heavy machinery.

Skills and Interests

To be a water distribution/sewerage operative you should:

  • be physically fit and prepared to work outside in all weathers
  • not be put off by unpleasant smells and substances
  • be willing to work unsocial hours
  • be able to use a variety of tools and plant
  • have an interest in technology and maintenance
  • be able to follow detailed instructions and procedures
  • be aware of health and safety regulations
  • have the necessary skills to deal with the public.

A driving licence is often required as many centres are located far away from build-up areas.


Most people will be taken on as trainees by a local water company or a subcontracting company working on their behalf. Contact details for local water company can be found in the telephone directory or from Water UK. Please check individual requirements of the relevant company.

There are no formal qualifications required but some companies may ask for four GCSEs/S grades or equivalent including English and maths. However, this is not always necessary. Some companies take adult entrants provided they have relevant experience, perhaps of working with plant or in a site maintenance role.

General fitness and health are necessary, and some employers ask prospective staff to take a medical. Some organisations run training schemes for junior operatives aged 16 to 18, while others take operatives at age 18.

For details of qualification equivalents see:

Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
Scottish Qualifications Authority


Training is likely to be mostly on the job with some additional training at college. Subjects studied include water technology and supply, distribution system construction, health, safety, the environment and customer care. Practical training on subjects like monitoring and maintenance is delivered by experienced operatives.

Water distribution/sewerage operatives may work towards NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Water Distribution. Please contact Energy & Utility Skills Limited for further details. Alternative qualifications include NVQ/SVQ Level 2 in Customer Care.

Foundation and Advanced Modern Apprenticeships (MAPPs) may be available for people aged 16-24.
For details see: MAPPs (England); Skillseekers MAPPs (Scotland); National Traineeships MAPPs (Wales); and MAPPs (Northern Ireland).


It is possible to move into other roles such as supervisor, area superintendent or management positions. Qualifications often enhance promotion prospects but performance on the job is an important factor.

Some operatives study for engineering degrees and become engineering technicians or incorporated water engineers. Those with language skills may find work overseas.

Annual Income

Figures are intended as a guideline only.

A trainee water treatment worker can earn from £9,500 a year.
Experienced operatives can earn around £14,000 to £16,000.

Further information

Energy & Utility Skills Limited
Friars Gate Two
1011 Stratford Road
B90 4BN
Tel: 0845 077 9922

Water UK
1 Queen Anne''s Gate

Other Useful Sewerage Operative Work Information

We have a section available at this site on Sewerage Operative job interview tips that you may find of interest should you wish to brush up your skills in this area and we also have number of career articles that may also be of use to you from within our guides and documents section.

Locations where we feature Jobs include:-
Aberdeen, Berkshire, Aberdeen, Bath, Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridgeshire, Cardiff, Central London, Cheltenham, Cornwall, Coventry, Derby, Devon, Docklands, Dorset, Dundee, Durham, East Midlands, East Sussex, Edinburgh, Essex, Glasgow, Gloucester, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leeds, Leicester, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Middlesbrough, Midlands and in various parts of the West Midlands

Details of other Sewerage Operative Jobs can also be found in other UK wide areas including:-
Milton Keynes, Newcastle, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Norfolk, North London, North Midlands, Northampton, Northamptonshire, Northern Ireland, Northumberland, Norwich, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, Oxford, Oxfordshire, Plymouth, Salisbury, Scotland, Sheffield, Shropshire, Somerset, South East, South London, South Midlands, Southampton, Staffordshire Surrey, Swansea, Swindon, Telford, Wales, Warwickshire, West End, West London, West Midlands, Worcestershire, York and throughout Yorkshire.

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