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Calhoun Community College to offer Waste Water Tech certification course

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DECATUR, Ala. (WHNT) - If you're looking for a new career we've got something you probably never considered. In fact, there's a shortage of qualified people for this particular line of work. But we'll warn you, it's not for everyone.

Slade Sparkman is one of several people who operate a multi-million dollar facility in Decatur that most folks might take for granted. It's an important job, though, and a very important facility. In fact it touches every home and business throughout the Decatur area.

"I'm a grade four waste water operator," Sparkman explains.

Yep, Slade is one of the guys that runs Decatur's sewage treatment plant. His job involves...

"Treating all the raw sewage that comes from the City of Decatur."

Somebody's gotta do it, and that's the problem. Wastewater treatment just isn't one of the first occupations you might think of when mapping out your future. As a result, there's a shortage of qualified personnel who are able to run facilities like this.

"Well we're finding there's a significant demand now especially with a lot of the operators out there that are getting near retirement age. That's what brought this need in the area on," says Denny Smith of Calhoun Community College.

It probably sounds a lot worse than it really is. The facilities are all state of the art now and come under strict operational guidelines. And the companies that operate them typically offer a competitive salary, good benefits, and stability. This plant is not going to shut down and move out of state.

"I plan on staying with it until the day I retire. It's a good field to get into," Slade says.

It may not be for everybody, but if you're interested, the opportunities are there.

By the way, we checked and found the region's average salary for a waste water treatment plant operator is $41,600 plus benefits. The certification course at Calhoun Community College is only offered once a year, and is coming up this fall.