Skip to main content

Septage servicing operator certification

Alert icon

2024 In-Person Paper Exam: 

The Operator Certification program will be hosting in-person exam sessions in 2024. Exams will be held throughout the state roughly two days each month beginning in March 2024. Once dates and locations are finalized, more information about the in-person paper exams and updated exam application forms can be found on the Operator Certification Exams Page under the DNR Applications tab within the DNR In-Person Paper Exam Application Forms subsection.

Please review the information on the operator certification pages carefully. The information summarizes the general requirements to obtain the necessary approval to legally operate in Wisconsin. Operators must follow Wisconsin Administrative Codes NR 114 and NR 113.

A septage servicing operator is an individual that has completed the requirements established in Wisconsin Administrative Code, Ch. NR 114 Ch. NR 114, Wis. Adm. Code. Requirements, depending on the different operator levels, include registration with the Wisconsin DNR, examinations, continuing education, and fees.

Operators that have met the operator-in-training, certified operator, and master operator requirements may look up their information on the Operator Look–up Website, which is found on the Operator Certification Program's homepage.

OpCert Training Calendar
Program schedule

Program schedule

To help plan ahead for certification exams, certification renewals, and business renewals, please refer to the Septage Operator Certification Program's schedule for the calendar year. Specific training sessions and classes are listed on the Operator Certification Program Training Calendar.

Fee overview

  • Operator–in–training registration: $25
  • Certification exams: $100
  • Certification renewal:
    • Certified Operator: $65; if postmarked after the certification expiration date, then a $100 late fee must also be included ($165 total).
    • Master Operator: $100; if postmarked after the certification expiration date, then a $100 late fee must also be included ($200 total).

Note: Training providers and conference organizers charge separate fees for classes or conferences.

Note: Microsoft Edge is the recommended browser for downloading all DNR fillable PDFs in these tabs. The forms may not download properly with Google Chrome.

Septage operator certification levels

This Operator Level Chart outlines the DNR requirements for the main operator types.

  • Certified Operator — Grade T; conduct all aspects of septage servicing except the land application of septage. To become a certified operator, a person must pass the Septage Servicing Operator Certification — Grade T examination.
  • Certified Operator — Grade L; conduct all aspects of septage servicing including the land application of septage. To become a certified operator, a person must pass the Septage Servicing Operator Certification — Grade L examination.
  • Master Operator — Grade T; conduct all aspects of septage servicing, except land application, and has attended the Master Operator Class, passed the Master Operator — Grade T examination and submitted a 1600-hour experience statement.
  • Master Operator — Grade L; conduct all aspects of septage servicing, including land application, and has attended the Master Operator Class, passed the Master Operator — Grade T and Master Operator — Grade L examinations and submitted a 1600-hour experience statement.

Before being granted an Operator–in–Training period or a certification, all applicants must pass a check of their social security number. Applicants owing taxes or child support will not be issued a certification or OIT period. For more information, visit the Wisconsin Department of Revenue website.

Additional designations

Operator–in–Charge (OIC)

For more information on the Operator–in–Charge designation, please refer to the OIC tab.

Operator–in–Training (OIT)

An OIT may engage in septage servicing under the direction of an operator–in–charge for up to 12 months without being certified. OITs do not need to accumulate continuing education credits. In order to continue operating, OITs must take a certification exam online within the 12-month OIT period.

To become an OIT, an individual must be registered using the Septage Operator–in–Training Registration Application (Form 3400-174), found on the forms web page. The fee for registering an OIT is $25. Someone that has already been an OIT may not re–register for at least five years.

Portable Restroom Servicing Assistants (PRSA)

Portable Restroom Servicing Assistants (PRSA) may service portable restrooms, including the maintenance and transportation of the restrooms and the septage from them without being certified, but a PRSA may not land apply septage. A PRSA is considered to be working under the certification of the Operator-in-Charge.

Farmer non commercial septage operator certification

The department is in the progress of updating this webpage to comply with revised chs. NR 113 and NR 114, Wis. Adm. Code (revised September 2021 and April 2022, respectively). For farmer non-commercial septage operator registration requirements, please refer to par. NR 113.05(4), Wis. Adm. Code. For more information about the farmer exemption approval criteria and application process, refer to the farmer exemption overview. To apply for a farmer exemption, download the Farmer Non–Commercial Septage Operator Certification Application (Form 3400–194), found on the forms web page, and submit the completed application to appropriate regional septage coordinator listed in the overview. A list of non-commercial septage operators is available.

Exams and study guide

To become a certified septage operator, you must pass an exam. A person does not need to be or have been an Operator–in–Training to take the exams.

  • To become a Certified Operator — Grade T, an individual must pass the Septage Servicing Operator Certification Exam — Grade T.
  • To become a Certified Operator — Grade L, an individual must pass the Septage Servicing Operator Certification Exam — Grade L.

The Septage Servicing Study Guide — Grade T and the Septage Servicing Study Guide — Grade L, along with ch. NR 113, Wis. Adm. Code are available to help study for both of the exams. Hard copies of the study materials are no longer routinely provided by the Operator Certification Program.

For more information on upcoming exam dates, locations, and times, go to exams. The cost of each exam is $100.

Passing or failing exams

A score of 75% or higher is a passing score on each exam. Operators will receive written notice of their exam results approximately three weeks after the exam date. Applicants who have failed an exam may apply to re–take the exam by submitting an application and paying the exam fee.

Master operator exams

Review the exam information under exams.

Ch. NR 114, Wis. Adm. Code requires an operator to earn continuing education credits in order to maintain an active certification. This continuing education requirement is designed to help operators keep current on new requirements and technical innovations as well as acquire additional knowledge and skills.

To view classes pre–approved for general and compliance septage credits, visit the Operator Certification Program Training Calendar and select "Septage Service" in the Certification Type drop down. Additional information for training providers can be found on the Operator Certification Program's Training link.

Training requirement

Certified Operator — Grade T or L: 3 certified operator (compliance) credits per 3-year certification period.

Master Operator — Grade T or L: 3 certified operator (compliance) credits and an additional 15 hours of credits (18 credits total) per 3-year certification period. These additional credits may be in the form of compliance credits, general septage credits, or a combination of compliance and general credits.

An operator's credits must be earned in the three-year period prior to renewal. For example, if July 1, 2016, is the expiration date of a certification, credits must be earned between July 2, 2013 and July 1, 2016. Extra credits do not carry over and may not be used for a future renewal.

Credits from pre–approved training are now tracked electronically on an operator's Training History Report. To bring up a Training History Report, go to the Operator Certification Look–up Website, which is found on the Operator Certification Program's homepage.

Certified operator "compliance" credits

Compliance credits are earned by attending pre-approved training specific to state and federal septage rules, such as EPA's 40 CRF part 503 and Wisconsin Administrative Rules NR113 and NR114. Other courses on the calendar may be approved for general septage credits; general septage credits are not compliance credits.

Compliance credits taught by the DNR are offered at least 4 times a year; at the WLWCA/WOWRA conferences, held in the winter and summer, and the master operator classes, held in the spring and fall. These trainings and additional compliance credit training events are posted on the Operator Certification Program Training Calendar.

General septage credits

Continuing education opportunities approved for general septage credit:

  • DNR approved training classes, workshops and seminars found on the training calendar
  • State or national association education events. Credits are granted for attending educational sessions: one credit for each session.
  • Wastewater treatment plant tours (1 hour)
  • Relevant safety related classes such as CPR/First Aid, confined space entry, or bloodborne pathogens.
  • Department of Safety & Professional Services approved publicly owned water treatment system (POWTS) maintainer or master plumber classes
  • Professional association meetings, training seminars or conferences
  • Wisconsin Technical College courses

Online training

There are a few online course options operators may take to help fulfill their general septage credit requirement:

  • Courses on safety topics such as bloodborne pathogens, confined space entry, and hazard communication.
  • Septage courses offered by On-line Wastewater Education (501)(c)(3) and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This option works especially well for operators with dual Michigan and Wisconsin certifications.
  • Math courses dealing with common septage calculations. An example of this type of course is Math Class 1 Wastewater, taught by 360 Water.

To claim credit for these courses, operators must fill out a Training Report Form, found on the training web page and provide proof of attendance. Once the training is approved, it will be added to an Operator's Training History Report. Approval may take several workdays, depending on the time of year. Please submit the training using the email option.

Renewal rejection

Activities not acceptable for continuing education are:

  • time spent learning new business specific operations or operating new equipment
  • time spent completing routine business forms and paperwork
  • time spent reading federal or state codes, septage–related publications (books, texts, magazines)
  • time spent watching septage related videos or television
  • time spent working with a licensed plumber agronomist, or soils scientist
  • time spent making septic evaluations
  • longevity in the septage business

Per NR114.22(2), a renewal may be rejected if the continuing education requirement is not met. If you do not have the proper credits to renew your certificate and your certification expires, send in the required continuing education slips when you have accumulated enough credits and the renewal fee (include the $100 late fee) to the Department to get your certification renewed. Operators may not continue to work with an expired certificate.

Every three years, Certified Operators and Master Operators are required to submit their continuing education credits and renewal fee to renew their certification. For information on how to accumulate continuing education credits, refer to the Training tab. Simply accumulating training credits does not renew a certification.

Operators are ultimately responsible for keeping track of their certification expiration date, accumulating the required number of continuing education credits, and ensuring fees are paid.

Renewal Requirements

Certified Operator — Grade T or L: 3 certified operator (compliance) credits per 3-year certification period and a $65 renewal fee. The fee is $165 if the operator renews late.

Master Operator — Grade T or L: 3 certified operator (compliance) credits and 15 general or compliance credits (18 total) per 3-year certification period and a $100 renewal fee. The fee is $200 if the operator renews late.

To renew, operators must mail in their continuing education documentation (Training History Report and credit slips) and the renewal fee to the address below. If operators received their renewal reminder letters, they are asked to include that as well. More detailed instructions are found in the sample renewal reminder letter found under "How to track certifications".

Wisconsin DNR
Septage Operator Certification Program EAS/7
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707–7921

How to track certifications

Several features of the Operator Certification Program facilitate tracking of certifications:

  • The Operator Certification Look-up Website, which is found on the Operator Certification Program homepage. Located on the Look-up Website are operators' Training History Report and a wallet card.
  • The renewal reminder letter mailed approximately 6 weeks prior to a certification expiring. Renewal reminder letters are strictly a courtesy and are mailed to last known address saved in the Operator Certification Program's database.
  • The certificate mailed to operators after they pass an exam or renew, which listed the certification type, expiration date, and required number of credits for renewal.

Note: Operators should notify the Septage Operator Certification Program of any change of mailing or email address. Operators may either include updated contact information with their renewal materials or email with the name and certification number of the person whose contact information is being submitted. Notifying other DNR programs of contact information changes will not update an operator's profile in the Operator Certification Program's database.

Failure to renew

If an operator fails to submit their renewal materials by their certification's expiration date:

  • They are no longer a certified or master operator and are not qualified to operate or be an Operator–in–Charge.
  • They start a year grace–period to renew their certification. Any materials submitted after the certification expiration date must include the $100 late fee. If an operator does not submit their renewal materials with the late fee after the year grace–period, they must re–take the certification exams to become certified again.
  • They cannot become certified again by taking the certification exams unless their certificate has been expired for at least one year.

Note: If an Operator–in–Charge lets their master operator certification expire, the business they are in charge of becomes out of compliance the same day the certification expires.

Master operator overview

A certified operator may upgrade to a master operator certification level by attending the master operator class, passing the appropriate master operator exam(s), and submitting a 1600-hour experience statement with proof of experience and $100 upgrade fee. Only individuals with a master operator certification are qualified to be Operators–in–Charge. The process to becoming a master operator can take up to 1–2 years, so operators should plan ahead.

Master operator class and exams

The Master Operator Class is open to certified operators and master operators for a minimum of three compliance credits. Operators must take the Master Operator Class prior to sitting for the Master Operator Exam. Studying Wisconsin Administrative Codes NR 113 and NR 114 prior to the course is recommended.

The Master Operator Exam applications are available. See the exams web page for more details.

Master Operator Class Registration

Master operator 1600-hour experience statement

A certified operator looking to upgrade to the master operator certification level must accumulate 1600 hours of relevant experience. Operators must submit a notarized 1600 experience statement explaining this experience and provide proof of their experience. Operators may submit the statement and proof before or after taking the master operator class or passing the master operator exam(s). Before submitting, operators should review the Applicant Work Experience Requirements for Master Operator Applicants.

After the upgrade

Upgrading to the Master Operator level does not change an operator's certification expiration date. Depending on when the operator upgrades, the number of credits they must earn prior to renewal is reduced. The number of required credits ranges in 3–18, 3 of which must be compliance credits. The number of required credits for renewal is printed on the certificate issued when the certification is upgraded. Regardless of when the upgrade occurs, the renewal fee for a Master Operator certification is $100.

Operator–in–Charge (OIC)

An operator–in–charge is an individual that has been designated by the owner to be in direct, responsible charge of the septage business. Only operators with the master operator certification may be designated as the OIC of a septage business.

A septage business owner must designate an OIC of the appropriate grade based upon the type of business and the method of septage disposal.

  • If the business only disposes at a treatment plant and does not dispose through land application, the OIC may be a master operator — grade T or grade L.
  • If the business disposes through land application, the OIC must be a master operator — grade L.

The business owner shall notify the department of any change of the designated OIC as soon as possible but no later than 15 days after the change. Email or mail written notification to the Septage Operator Certification Program. Within the notification, please indicate the name and certification number of the new and old OICs, the business name and license number, and the date the new Operator-in-Charge started.

The role of the OIC includes the following:

  • submit annual disposal reports
  • serve as the primary contact for DNR staff
  • maintain operator records and coordinate operator renewals
  • perform truck inspections
  • ensure operators are trained properly in accordance with disposal regulations
  • draft standard operating procedures (SOP)
  • oversee correct land application methods are being performed consistently
  • make certain operators are trained in performing safe servicing operations
  • ensure daily log book records are completed accurately

Streamlined Variance Procedures for Emergency Operator-in-Charge (OIC) Situation

Regional coordinators

Regional Office Coordinator Name Counties of Responsibility
South Central Region
N7725 WI-28
Horicon, WI 53032
Kassandra Schultz
Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Richland, Rock, Sauk
Southeast Region
2300 N Dr Martin Luther King Jr Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53212
Stephen Warrner
Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Walworth, Washington, Waukesha
Northeast Region
3369 W Brewster St
Appleton, WI 54914
Teresa Hall
Brown, Calumet, Door, Fond du Lac, Green Lake, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Menominee, Oconto, Outagamie, Shawano, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago

West Central Region
2984 Shawano Ave
Green Bay, WI 54313

Heidi Schmitt Marquez
Adams, Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Crawford, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Marathon, Monroe, Pepin, Pierce, Portage, St. Croix, Trempealeau, Vernon, Wood
Northern Region
2501 Golf Course Rd
Ashland, WI 54806
Alison Canniff
Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Douglas, Florence, Forest, Iron, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida, Polk, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Vilas, Washburn

Operator certification program coordinator

Rachel Angel

Section chief, operator certification program

Steve Geis