a career in

Conservation

Average water use in California

  • Environment 40%
  • Agriculture 50%
  • Cities 10%

Drought and climate change have pushed California’s once mighty Chinook salmon population to the brink of extinction. How do we restore our rivers? By using less water, wasting less and recycling what we use. We are getting there. Agriculture is working with California’s universities, while Californians and businesses work with their water utilities.

2017-2047

New water conservation technicians starting out in 2017 will see four trends grow during their careers.

N

Watershed management

Water conservation, which has focused on reducing water use, is evolving into watershed management — focusing on strategies that reduce water use, create new water supply and improve water quality.

N

New urban landscapes

Cities are replacing concrete and asphalt with landscape to capture and clean polluted stormwater and recharge the groundwater below, while residents replace lawns with native, water efficient habitat for birds and bees.

N

Industrial water efficiency

Coca Cola launched a water efficiency program in 2007. In 2016, the company achieved net zero water use, through water efficiency and the restoration of water resources across the globe. Large companies now see water efficiency as critical to sustainability.

N

Building ordinances

Build a home in California and it must have a water efficient landscape. Develop buildings in San Francisco and they must have their own alternative water supply and, now, a green roof to reduce stormwater runoff. Other cities will follow.

Watershed management

Watershed management

New urban landscapes

Industrial efficiency

Industrial efficiency

Ordinances

What you do

As Californians reduce their water use, they reduce water withdrawals from the state’s rivers, and they reduce the urgency, scale and cost of developing new water supplies like desalination plants. Water conservation professionals show home and business owners why conservation is critical and how to do it.

N

Water use audits

Water conservation technicians meet with home and business owners, check their plumbing fixtures, appliances, irrigation system and landscape, and recommend water saving strategies.

N

Incentives

Water conservation and public affairs staff promote incentives, such as a cash rebate when a homeowner purchases water efficient sprinklers, and administer the rebate program.

N

Public outreach

Water conservation and public affairs staff create videos, webpages, brochures and workshops that teach home and business owners how to conserve and why they should.

N

Reporting

Water conservation staff monitor, calculate and report water savings data to the State of California and other water agencies.

Water conservation

How to get started

Do a year of hard work

Many agencies want applicants with irrigation experience.

Take courses

Learn about water conservation programs and California’s and Nevada’s water resources.

b

Pass the WUEP exam

Pass the Grade 1 Water Use Efficiency Practitioner certification exam.

Career Pathway

Public Affairs Manager

Annual salary
$80,000-$124,000

Sample job description
Irvine Ranch Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification
Not required

Experience 
3-5 years in public relations, demonstrated ability to manage people and projects, and experience as a media spokesperson

Education
Bachelor’s Degree

Public Affairs Representative

Annual salary
$61,000-$95,000

Sample job description
Irvine Ranch Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification
Not required

Experience 
3 years in public affairs, community outreach and educational programs

Education
Bachelor’s Degree

Water Conservation Specialist

Annual salary
$62,000-$78,000

Sample job description
Helix Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification
At time of hire or within 1-2 years:
Level 1 Water Use Efficiency Practitioner OR
Landscape Irrigation Auditor

Experience 
3-5 years in public affairs, community outreach and educational programs

Education
Bachelor’s Degree

Water Conservation Technician

Annual salary
$57,000-$72,000

Sample job description
Helix Water District

Minimum qualifications for this job

Certification
At time of hire or within 1-2 years:
Level 1 Water Use Efficiency Practitioner OR
Landscape Irrigation Auditor

Experience 
3-5 years in administrative, customer service, education or water conservation role

Education
High school diploma or GED

Certification

Grade 3

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass the Grade 3 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Option 1
Associate’s degree
– 4 years of experience in water use efficiency
– Grade 2 certification for at least 6 months.
Option 2
Bachelor’s degree
– 3 years of experience in water use efficiency
– Grade 2 certification for 6 months.

Grade 2

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass the Grade 2 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Option 1
High school diploma or GED
– 3 years of experience in water use efficiency
– Grade 1 certification for at least 6 months.
Option 2
Associate’s degree
– 2 years of experience in water use efficiency
– Grade 1 certification for at least 6 months.
Option 3
Bachelor’s degree
– 18 months of experience in water use efficiency
– Grade 1 certification for 6 months.

Grade 1

Minimum qualifications for certification
Pass Grade 1 exam

Minimum qualifications to take the exam
Education
High school diploma or GED

Learn about the exam

Courses to take

Courses

For Level 1-3 Certification

Introduction to Water Technology
Water Conservation
Horticulture (recommended)
Irrigation (recommended)