Water Network Operative

Job Description:

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

Job Category:
Energy & Utilities

What you will do:

You could:

  • dig holes by hand or with mechanical digging equipment
  • use maps and plans to trace where to dig
  • lay and repair water mains and pipes
  • use closed circuit TV to check for blockages in pipes and drains
  • clear blockages
  • install water meters and hydrants
  • maintain vehicles and equipment
  • record details of completed work and materials used


You’ll need:

  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • knowledge of maths
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

As well as:

  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to work on your own (drive)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptable)
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

To become a Water Network Operative, you typically need a combination of GCSE subjects that provide a foundation in relevant skills and knowledge. While specific requirements may vary depending on the employer and job, the following subjects are generally helpful for pursuing a career in this field:

  1. Mathematics: Mathematics is essential for understanding and working with measurements, calculations, and data related to water networks.
  2. Science: Subjects like Chemistry and Biology can provide a strong foundation for understanding the principles of water treatment and the biological aspects of water systems.
  3. English: Good communication skills are important for this role, as you’ll need to write reports, communicate with team members, and potentially with the public.
  4. Geography: Geography can be beneficial for understanding the physical and environmental aspects of water distribution and the geographical layout of water networks.
  5. Design and Technology: This subject can help you develop problem-solving skills and an understanding of the mechanical and technical aspects of water network equipment.
  6. Environmental Science: If available, this subject can provide insights into environmental regulations and sustainability practices in water management.
  7. Business Studies: Some knowledge of business practices and management can be useful in understanding the administrative and organizational aspects of water network operation.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly

You could start by taking a college course – in the UK this would be:

  • 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

You may get into this career by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in the water industry.

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role:

  • Level 2 Water network operative
  • Level 3 Water process technician

This will usually take 16 months to complete. You’ll do on-the-job training and spend time with a college or training provider.

Direct Application
There are no set entry requirements for this job though employers may prefer you to have a good general standard of education in subjects like English and maths.

Experience in construction, plumbing, building services engineering or plant maintenance could be useful.

Restrictions and Requirements
You may need to be registered in one of the water industry safety passport schemes, in the UK this would be supported by the Energy & Utilities Skills Register (EUSR). The safety passport proves that you are competent to carry out work on the water network.

You may need a driving licence for some jobs.

Working Hours and Environment:

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

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career Path & Progression:

With experience, you could progress to a team leader.

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