Recycling Technology Degree

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What is Recycling Technology?

Recycling Technology is a field of study focused on optimizing water usage.  By effectively managing biological, physical, chemical, and radiological components of water, professionals can better manage usage.  The curriculum within the Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology degree programs include the ability to understand water through a human lens.  By accurately sampling and testing water, recycling technologists can best understand physical and chemical characteristics that affect human consumption and overall water usage.

Top Recycling Technology Degrees

Degree programs in water quality, treatment, and recycling technology are available from several colleges and universities.  Certificate and degree programs may be a viable path for you to consider for your career.  Technical colleges, community colleges, and trade schools of all sizes have created direct degree programs in this area of study.

Water utility science and water quality programs prepare students for employment in wastewater and water quality fields.  Degree programs in water quality and wastewater treatment include Associate of Applied Science (AAS) and Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) tracks.  In addition, several certificate programs exist to help students upskill or enter the field in a variety of positions.  To help you better understand the academic options in greater detail, we have created summaries of the most popular programs below.

Water Quality and Recycling Technology Certificates

Certificate programs are intended to provide students with key skills and knowledge in specific areas of study.  The water quality and recycling technology certificate programs are no different as students and working professionals will need to keep up with changes in the industry.  Students can also use certificate programs as a means to prepare for entry-level jobs in the field.

Certificates can be earned in as few as six months up to two years depending on the course requirements and the number of classes you are able to take at a given time.  Examples of certificate programs in this field include:

  • Distribution and Collection Systems Certificate
  • Mathematics in Water Quality Certificate
  • Laboratory Analysis Certificate
  • Advanced Water Treatment Certification
  • Introduction to Water Treatment Certificate
  • Introduction to Wastewater Treatment Certificate
  • Advanced Wastewater Treatment Certification

Water Quality and Recycling Technology Associate Degrees

Associate degrees in recycling technology and water quality can be earned in about 2-years at most colleges.  AAS degree programs blend general education classes with core science courses to provide students with a well-rounded educational experience.  General education courses can include a combination of the following: history, creative writing, philosophy, statistics, English composition, psychology, and economics.

The core science classes will typically include biology, chemistry, physics and degree-specific courses such as:

  • Water Quality Management
  • Fundamentals of Recycling
  • Recycling Systems
  • Calculations for Water Quality Managers
  • Water Quality Analysis
  • Biological Water Quality Analysis
  • Wastewater Design and Analysis
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Water Disinfection Techniques
  • Hydraulics in Water Quality
  • Safety in Recycling and Water Facilities
  • Water Quality Systems

Water Quality and Recycling Technology Bachelor Degrees

Bachelor degrees in water quality and recycling are conferred as a Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) in most cases.  Much like an associate’s degree, the bachelor degree will include a variety of general education courses along with core curriculum.  By combining the two types of course work, students will develop a greater sense of self along with an integrative set of thinking skills.

The bachelor degree track will typically take students about four years to complete.  A bachelor’s degree is the most popular degree conferred with nearly a third of working adults holding this degree.  Core classes may include a cross-section of lower level courses plus upper level classes in contamination, toxicity, water management, design, bacteriology, distribution, waste collection, recycling management, and hydrology in addition to the following types of courses:

Advanced Recycling Methodologies Water Distribution Test Preparation
Advanced Water Treatment Water Distribution
Water Quality Recycling Management
Recycling and Sustainability Advanced Wastewater Treatment
Water Mathematics and Hydraulics Collection Systems
Wastewater Treatment Advanced Water Distribution
Cross Connection Control Specialist Electrical Wiring and Controls
Water Conservation Practitioner Pumps and Pumping
Water Reclamation and Reuse Water Treatment Fundamentals
Treatment Test Preparation Water Resource Management


Educational Requirements in Water Quality

In terms of educational requirements, Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology degree holders will have typically studied the following courses while in college:

Employment & Water Treatment Specializations

For students that earn a college degree in Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology, there are several fields of specialization that one can pursue.  The options range from chemist, materials scientist, environmental scientist, geoscientist, mathematician, hydrologist, physicist, power plant operator, stationary engineer, postsecondary teacher, and astronomer in the public or private domain to name a few possible career tracks.

Where Do Water Quality and Recycling Techs Work?

Graduates from a degree program or certificate track can expect to launch a career with a variety of county, state, or city agencies.  Employment in a public works entity outpaces private industry but both are tenable vocational paths.

Job titles may include any number of the following after graduation: recycling technician, wastewater treatment plant operator, recycling manager, drinking water treatment plant operator, recycling engineer, state regulator, environmental laboratory technician, ultra-pure water technician, industrial pre-treatment coordinator, engineering consultants, surface water management, federal regulator, and recycling consultant.

Job Growth, Salary, and Related Treatment Fields

The job growth in the Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology domain are at and above average.  For example, the rate of job growth for Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology is expected to rise 6% through 2024 and for postsecondary teachers a 13% growth rate is expected during the same period.

Given the nature of the Water Quality, Wastewater Treatment, and Recycling Technology degree, compensation after graduation can vary greatly from career field to career field given prior experience and geographic location.  Related fields include training, research, policy, field work, managing, leading, and directing.

Additional Resources in Water Recycling

For students looking for additional information and resources outside academia can visit the associations below.  Associations can provide you with information, membership benefits, new, job updates, industry notifications, and professional networking opportunities.

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