A water or waste water network operative installs, repairs and maintains the pipes bringing in fresh water supplies and the sewers carrying away waste water.
You could be:
- searching, sometimes using closed circuit television (CCTV), to find breaks in pipes due to frost, soil movement, traffic or roadworks
- switching valves to divert the water supply away from the area of work
- warning customers in advance about operations and cutting off water supply while work is carried out
- using road breaker drills, diggers and lifting equipment, and digging a trench to expose the pipes needing maintenance
- taking out and replacing the faulty section of a pipe, taking care not to break nearby gas pipes and cables; joining up the parts, making sure they are watertight
- refilling the trenches and resurfacing them with tarmac
- cleaning the pipes using rods, high pressure water jets, compressed air or carbon dioxide; installing hydrants, stopcocks and meters
- working inside sewers if they are large enough, having first checked electronically for dangerous gases and availability of oxygen
- carrying out maintenance work at reservoirs and sewage treatment works.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the size of company or organisation you work for
- the demand for the job.
Trainee operatives with Scottish Water start on £14,200 rising to between £17,005 and £25,550 once qualified. They may earn extra through overtime.
In other companies operatives can earn around £20,000 and go up to £38,000 for operatives with several years' experience.
- You work outdoors in all weathers, perhaps sometimes in remote areas.
- You often work indoors in places which are dark, cold, wet, noisy, dusty, smelly and dirty.
- You are on 24 hour call out on a rota basis, although normal hours are daytime.
- You are on your feet all day, bending and working sometimes in confined spaces.
- You have to wear protective clothing and occasionally breathing equipment.
- You may be at risk of exposure to dangerous gases and other substances.
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- You might enter through a Scottish Water Technical: Repair and Maintenance Modern Apprenticeship
- For entry to this Apprenticeship you usually need at least five subjects at National 4 or 5 including English, Maths and science subject. Two Highers or relevant technical qualifications or experience are an advantage.
- Scottish Water also offer 2 year Repair and Maintenance Traineeships for Water and Waste Water. See their website for more details.
- You may need a driving licence or be working towards one.
- If you have to operate machinery you must be over 18.
Apply for jobs with Scottish Water.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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What Does it Take?
- the ability to follow detailed instructions
- the confidence to work alone
- awareness of health and safety
- good observation
- good problem solving skills
- knowledge of local area
- ability to deal with the public
- practical skills
- a strong stomach.
- The Scottish Water Modern Apprenticeship leads to a relevant Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) at SCQF Level 6, a National Progression Award (NPA) and Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Water Operations.
- You could train on the job and attend college on a day release basis.
- There are good opportunities later for progress into technician or incorporated engineer (IEng) level work.
- You could move into promoted posts as a supervisor, a water inspector, an area superintendent or controller or a trainer for new staff.
- The Open University (OU) gives credit for the HNC in Water Operations into their BA/BSc Open Honours degree. The OU and Heriot-Watt University have worked together to identify pathways through the degree that are relevant to the industry and suitable preparation for the postgraduate MSc in Water and Environmental Management.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
Energy and Utility Skills
Tel: 0845 077 9922
Energy and Utility Skills is the Sector Skills Council for the electricity, gas, waste management and water sectors. Their website has a section aimed at 14 to 19 year olds on careers in these sectors.
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