Northern Maine Community College has received full scholarship funding for 16 students in either the drinking water or wastewater treatment certificate programs, and the College is beginning to recruit individuals looking to advance their career in this field. The funding and program are offered in collaboration with the Maine Apprenticeship Program through the Department of Labor. NMCC’s certification as an approved apprenticeship program was announced on July 16 by Maine Commissioner of Labor Laura Fortman.

“Maine’s water and wastewater facilities are in need of skilled workers, and this generous funding from the Maine Community College System helps to close that workforce gap by developing new hires into Grade 2 and Grade 3 operators and preparing them for eventual leadership roles in the industry,” said Edward Wright, workforce development coordinator at NMCC.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the mean annual salary of wastewater treatment plant and system operators to be $51,890; however, a 2015 report by the Department of Environmental Protection warned of a scarcity of younger operators due to nearly two-thirds of wastewater and drinking water operators approaching retirement age. 

“NMCC launched the water treatment technology program in 2018 in response to industry needs. Maine has a significant need for new employees in this field, since a high percentage of the workforce is within 5-8 years of retirement,” Wright stated. “This is a rewarding career path with high wages. Water is one of Maine’s most previous resources, and professionals in this field become stewards who make a tremendous environmental impact.” 

The Maine Apprenticeship Program helps establish structured yet flexible training programs designed to meet the specific needs of Maine employers through on-the-job learning and related classroom instruction. The Maine Apprenticeship program is a federally recognized apprenticeship structure, which includes monitoring, verification of skills, and between 2,000 and 4,000 hours of work gained while pursuing their certificate. 

The opportunity will be available on both NMCC campus in Presque Isle and SMCC campus in South Portland, where the College opened a satellite facility in 2020. Each certificate is a nine-month curriculum involving classroom instruction, lab work, and on-the-job apprenticeship training. Candidates for the apprenticeship program should already work in the water treatment industry and should be seeking Grade 2 or Grade 3 licensure. 

For more information about NMCC’s water treatment technology program in either Presque Isle or South Portland, please visit To learn about enrollment in the water treatment apprenticeship program contact Wright at 207-760-1197 or email