Collection Systems Certification Program – Grade III

This is a certification program for Collection Systems – Grade III.  There are four grade levels for the Collection Systems Certification Program.  Membership in NEWEA is not required for certification.  The exam may be taken independent of a training course.

All wastewater collection systems personnel, including those in subordinate positions, are encouraged to:

  • Apply for certification in the highest grade consistent with their present qualifications, regardless of whether or not the qualifications established for their present position could be satisfied by a person holding a lower grade of certification; and
  • Strive for increased knowledge, training, and experience to permit future advancement in their grade of certification.

This program provides certification for personnel whose duties are confined to work, or supervision of work on sewer maintenance or construction, or pumping stations.


All applicants for Grade III must submit satisfactory evidence of at least six years’ qualifying experience describing duties in a level of responsibility relevant to the field operation, maintenance, and management of a collection system at Grade II or higher, or of four years’ experience in the operation of a collection system in Grade III or higher; and must submit satisfactory evidence of mechanical aptitude.  Applicants also shall meet the following general requirements:

  • Be able to read and write the English language;
  • Be in satisfactory physical condition; and
  • Be able to maintain desirable logs and records of operation and maintenance in a collection system of classification consistent with the grade applied for; and
  • Higher Education may be substituted for a portion of the experience as indicated in the Brochure.

Download the Brochure for supplemental information

Relevant post-high school education programs are described in the Brochure.

  • Grade II, III or IV – Bachelor of Science Degree – 4 years, Associates Degree – 2 years

Various other educational and experience equivalents will be considered as experience to the degree adjudged by the Certification Committee.

An Operator In Training (OIT) status for grade III collection system operators exists.

Your exam grade level is also based on a point system classification:

Grade I       1 – 20 points

Grade II     21 – 39 points

Grade III    40 – 55 points

Grade IV    56 –  > points

To determine your points and eligible grade level, please refer to the Collection Systems Point System.


Exams are held throughout the year either online or in-person.  Training classes are not a prerequisite. The passing grade on all examinations is a minimum of 70%.  Tests are comprised of a 100 multiple-choice questions and essay examination.  In the event an applicant fails to pass an examination, he/she may apply for re-examination and submit the $75 application fee.

Applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to scheduling an examination. All applications will be screened to ascertain whether the applicant meets the education and experience requirements for the grade level.

The Certification Committee may, at its discretion, waive examination for applicants holding certificates or licenses issued by other states or associations having equivalent standards as determined by the Certification Committee.

In accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, if you have a disability and need testing accommodations, please contact the NEWEA office so that appropriate arrangements can be made.


  • The fee for certification in each grade is $75.00 payable to NEWEA.
  • Fees shall accompany all applications for certificates.
  • Fees for all applicants whose applications are rejected, or who fail to pass the examination will not be returned.
  • Exam results will not be released until payment has been received.


  1. Complete the online application and submit with payment.  The certification fee is $75.00.  Make checks payable to NEWEA
  2. To determine your grade level eligibility, download the CS Point System (PDF)
  3. Download the Brochure for supplemental information
  4. Applications must be submitted at least 30 days prior to scheduling an examination.

Submitted applications will be reviewed by the committee.  Once reviewed, the applicant will receive an email to schedule the exam.  Training courses are NOT offered by NEWEA.  Exams may be taken without attending a training course.

Payment must be received prior to scheduling an exam.


Upon successful completion of the examination, you will receive an email with your score indicating you have passed. This letter will also serve as your certificate, no hard copies will be mailed. Certificates will be permanent unless revoked for proper cause.


The following resources may be used to obtain study materials:
Office of Water Programs – California State University, Sacramento
Telephone: (916) 278-6142

Water Environment Federation
Telephone: (800) 666-0206