Water Treatment Field Service Technician
What is a typical day like for you?
Usually I would wake up early in the morning because I need to maximize the time spent on site. The “site” is what we call the water or wastewater treatment facilities. Because I am a service technician, I need to [assist] the owners or the operators of the treatment plant and I need to coordinate my work schedule with the their day schedule or shift schedules. Once on site I would access the job requirements, go through all the safety procedures, and work out a plan of action. Then I would proceed with the job. Depending on the facility and the job I could spend 8-10 hours per day on site. Most of the time, one day on site is not enough and my service visits would last from 4 days to 5 weeks.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Traveling to places I would have never visited in my lifetime if it wasn’t for the job. And meeting people goes along with that. I have met very interesting people in the most interesting places in Canada and the USA.
What is the least enjoyable part of your job?
Sometimes I would need to troubleshoot a valve or a flow meter in a wastewater aeration tank. For that I would need to put on a Tyvex suit, rubber gloves, and rubber boots and get very close to the wastewater.
How does your job make a difference?
I am part of a small number of people who perform what looks like mundane tasks, but without my efforts there would be a lot of people left without clean water or adequate sewage.
How do you use science, math and technology in your job?
It is important to know the mechanics of water and wastewater flow. On the job I need to calculate the flow of water or wastewater and I need to adjust the amount of chemical used to disinfect the water. Complementarily, I use my knowledge of chemistry and biology to understand the requirements of bacteria in the wastewater that digest the bad organisms and reduce the harmful effects of wastewater as it is released back into the environment. And finally, I need to understand the mechanical aspects of a treatment plant. Everything from valves opening and closing to measuring water temperature is now done by computers; understanding technology and how it works helps when things don’t go as planned.
Is there one course you wish you had taken in high school, but didn’t?
In high school I wish I took a technology course. I find that less and less people want to work with their hands. There are a number of very important tasks that a computer is unable to do and they require skilled people to perform these tasks. Having those skills sets you apart from the rest and makes for a highly paid and highly satisfying profession.
What makes this job right for you?
I love working with my hands and I believe that somewhere down the line I am making another person’s life a lot easier and safer by providing safe drinking water and adequate wastewater treatment services.
What's the most bizarre or silliest thing you’ve ever done in this job?
I operated an overhead crane.
What activities do you like to do outside of work?
I play soccer.
You just won $10 million! What’s the first thing you’d do?
I would go on vacation to a tropical island.
Image: By Rjgalindo, via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASewer_Plant.jpg