Frequently Asked Questions


Course Info

How do I know which course I should take?
The Office of Water Programs cannot recommend specific courses to students because each state has its own certification requirements. For certification information, contact your state's certification officer; you can find their contact information at: Association of Boards of Certification (ABC)
How do I become a water or wastewater operator?
If you're just beginning to think about operator training, here's some certification information to help you get started.
How do these self-study training courses work?
Study the course material at your own pace. Manuals may include self-study course instructions near the table of contents to help you successfully complete the course. Chapters include section or review questions that can be used to test your knowledge of the material as you move through it. One method of study is to familiarize yourself with the material in a chapter and to then take the chapter objective test before starting the next chapter. When enrolled in a course, you can complete your objective tests online using a computer, tablet, or smartphone or via paper. Testing instructions are provided when you enroll in a course.
How much time is allowed to finish each course?
  • Courses worth 0.6 to 3.0 continuing education units (CEUs) must be completed within three (3) months of the date of enrollment.
  • Courses worth 3.1 to 9.0 CEUs must be completed within six (6) months of the date of enrollment
  • Certificate program courses for academic credit must be completed within six (6) months of enrollment.
Why do you stop grading older editions after a new edition
is published?

New editions of our courses are developed to ensure that students receive the most current information about processes, regulations, and technologies. Once an edition has been replaced with a more current version, it is no longer appropriate to grade tests that are based on outdated material. Courses that have been successfully completed may only be repeated when a revised edition becomes available.

During the transition period from one edition to the next (usually 6 months) we grade both versions to accommodate those students who had just begun the course when the new edition became available.

To ensure the best test results, it is important that the edition of the manual you are using matches the edition of the course you are enrolled in.

How long will it take me to study for the course?
The time to complete each course depends upon each person. Each individual sets his or her own pace, but must establish a regular schedule such as one or two evenings a week or on Saturday mornings. Most students require from 50 to 150 hours of study to complete each course.
How do the online courses work?
Online courses are delivered over the Internet, and include lessons, readings, video clips, student exercises, and online exams. The readings, student exercises, and video clips are contained on a companion CD that integrates with the online materials. Please be sure you can meet the System Requirements before completing your purchase.

For a complete list of online offerings, see our Online Courses page. (Note to Texas and Washington operators: Your states require that your exams be proctored and that an affidavit be signed by your proctor. After purchase, you will receive detailed proctoring instructions.)

Can I take more than one course at a time?
You may take more than one course at a time, but remember that the course time limits apply to each course you order. That means that if you enroll in two courses with 6-month time limits at the same time, you must finish both within the same 6-month period. Enrollment time limits begin on the date you place your order.
I have more answer sheets than there are chapters—do I need
to do the final exam?
No. The extra sheets are in case you make a mistake. The Final Exam/Comprehensive Review Questions are provided for you to review how well you remember the material.
I have answer sheets but no questions—why didn't I receive
a question booklet?
For some courses, the test questions are inside the manual at the end of each chapter and no separate question booklet is needed. Courses without separate question booklets are:
  • Pretreatment Facility Inspection
  • Small Water Systems Video Information Series
How do I take an online exam?

Follow these steps to start taking online exams:

  1. Log into your OWP online account or create one as a first-time user.
    Note: Each chapter exam has a 3-hour time limit. Schedule your time so you can finish in one session.

  2. Click the 'Course Enrollments' tab.
  3. enrollments image
  4. Click a course title in 'Active Enrollments'.
  5. enrollments image
  6. Click 'Start online exam' for the chapter test you want to take. Simple instructions guide you through your online exam.
  7. start exam image
Do exams need to be proctored?
Some states have proctoring requirements for course exams. For more information, please see State Requirements.

CEUs & Transcripts

How many Continuing Education Units (CEUs) can be earned?
Correspondence Courses
9 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of each course with the exceptions of:
  • Treatment of Metal Wastestreams and Manage For Success (worth 4.5 CEUs each)
  • Collection Systems: Methods for Evaluating and Improving Performance (worth 3 CEUs)
  • Utility Management (worth 2 CEUs)
Online Courses
  • Small Water System (702 Series): 1.8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of each online course.
  • Water Distribution System Operation and Maintenance (703 Series): 1.8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of each online course.
  • Operation of Wastewater Treatment Plants (601 Series): 1.8 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of each online course.
Video Courses
  • Small Water Systems Video Information Series: 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of the series.
  • Water Systems Operation and Maintenance Video Training Series: 3 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of the series.
  • Collection Systems Operation and Maintenance Training Videos: 0.6 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of the series.
  • Pretreatment Facility Inspection Training Videos: 0.6 Continuing Education Units (CEUs) are earned upon successful completion of the series.
What is the difference between CEUs and units of academic
(college) credit?
CEUs are offered for all OWP courses, and are designed for use where employers, relicensure agencies, and other authorities require a specified number of hours of study on a regular basis for career advancement purposes. Only students enrolled in the Water Treatment Specialist Certificate or the Wastewater Treatment Specialist Certificate programs can earn academic credit that may be applied to college degree programs.
Do I get a certificate when I finish?
Yes. Upon successful completion of each CEU course you will receive a Certificate of Completion from California State University, Sacramento.

To order a duplicate of your certificate, please login to your account, click on the Student History tab, and select the "Purchase Duplicate Certificate" link.

If you are taking a Specialist Certificate Program course, upon completion of all three courses, a Specialist Certificate will be awarded from California State University, Sacramento.
How can I obtain a transcript for the courses that I have
completed through the Office of Water Programs?
To request a CEU Transcript, please login to your account on our website, click on the Course Enrollments tab, and select the "Purchase CEU Transcript" link. Or you can contact OWP by phone (916) 278-6142 or email: To process your request for a CEU transcript, we will need the following information: your name, address, telephone number, and email address.

To request a College Credit Transcript (for Specialist Certificate Program courses), please contact the Sacramento State Office of Admissions and Records.


Can I use veterans benefits (G.I. Bill, Voc/Rehab, etc.) or military tuition assistance
to pay for OWP courses?
Most OWP courses are not covered by veterans benefits or military tuition assistance. However, courses taken for academic credit as part of the Water Treatment Plant Operation Specialist Certificate program or the Wastewater Treatment Plant Operation Specialist Certificate program may be eligible for these benefits. Please contact the College of Continuing Education at (916) 278-6984 for more information.
How long will items remain in my shopping cart?
Your items will remain in your shopping cart for 30 days. If you do not complete your purchase within that time, the cart will be emptied and you will need to begin your shopping again.
How can I place my order by mail?
To place an order by mail, fill out this Printable Order Form, print it, and mail it to our office.

Because shipping charges vary depending on weight and destination, we recommend that you call our office to calculate exact shipping charges before mailing your order form.


Can I have orders sent to prisons?
OWP delivers to prisons, but we strongly suggest you contact the prison first to confirm that they accept deliveries and to note any special regulations the prison might have. Some prisons don't allow delivery of books. Others place a limit on the number of items contained in a package.

We're unable to affix any special labels or instructions to the packages and on the outside will indicate only the destination address, our company name, and our return address. We also cannot allow gifts to be sent anonymously to inmates; the sender's billing address will appear on the payment receipt included in the package.

Because inmates cannot sign for deliveries, packages must be sent via US Mail. To avoid delivery problems, you might consider having the items shipped to you via UPS and then shipping them to the prison via US Mail.
Where is my package?
Please check the confirmation email you received when you made your purchase for tracking information. If you still cannot locate your materials, please contact our office at:
(916) 278-6142 or

Please remember that orders placed after 1:30 pm will not be processed until the next business day. OWP business days are Monday through Friday.
How do I return items that I do not need?
View our return policy here: Return Policy
Can I have my order shipped with a carrier other than UPS?
Yes. For shipments using the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, or customer accounts, please contact our office at (916) 278-6142 or

Self-Help Center Account Management

Will OWP keep track of my State Operator Number?
Yes. If you have a state-issued Operator License Number, OWP can link it to your enrollment account. This will improve long-term coordination of record keeping between your state agency and your educational achievements. Go to the Manage My Account section of this website.