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Water network operative

Water network operatives look after the pipes, mains and pumping stations that supply homes and businesses with water.

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £27,000

Average UK salary in 2022 was £33,200
(source Office for National Statistics)

Working hours

42 to 44 a week

You could work: evenings / weekends / bank holidays; on shifts

Future employment

There will be 5.8% fewer Water network operative jobs in 2027.

Day to day tasks

As a water network operative, you could:

  • set up site safety measures like traffic lights and barriers
  • dig trenches by hand or with mechanical digging equipment
  • follow plans to trace where to dig safely
  • lay and repair water mains and pipes and install meters and hydrants
  • detect blockages in pipes and drains and clear them
  • maintain equipment and keep records of completed work

Working environment

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Your working environment may be physically demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

You could start by taking a college course like:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills
  • Level 2 Certificate in Construction Operations
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Water Engineering with a choice of 4 pathways

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
For more information

You could train on the job through a:

  • Water Network Operative Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Water Industry Network Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

These take between 18 and 30 months to complete.

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
For more information
Direct application

There are no set entry requirements to get into this job.

Employers may prefer you to have GCSEs in English and maths.

It might be an advantage if you have experience in construction groundworks, plumbing, building services engineering or roadworks.

Requirements and restrictions

You'll need to:

  • You may need to be registered in one of the water industry safety passport schemes, supported by the Energy and Utilities Skills Register (EUSR). The safety passport proves that you are able to carry out work on the water network.
  • You may need a driving licence for some jobs.

More information

Further information

You can find out more about working and training in the water industry from Energy and Utilities Jobs.

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With experience, you could work as a team supervisor.

With further training, you could become an engineering technician or water engineer.

You'll find more details about working and training in the water industry from Talent Source Network.

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • the ability to work on your own
  • knowledge of maths
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • knowledge of physics
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
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