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Water network operative

Alternative titles for this job include Distribution technician, leakage operative, network service technician

Water network operatives look after the pipes, mains and pumping stations that supply homes and businesses with water.

Average salary (a year)

£15,000 Starter


£27,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

42 to 44 a week

You could work

evenings / weekends / bank holidays on shifts

How to become

Explore the different ways to get into this role.

How to become a water network operative

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could start by taking a college course like:

  • Level 1 Certificate in Construction Skills
  • Level 2 Certificate in Construction Operations
  • Level 2 or 3 Diploma in Water Engineering with a choice of 4 pathways

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
  • 2 or fewer GCSEs at grades 3 to 1 (D to G), or equivalent, for a level 1 course
  • 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course

More Information


You might be able to become a water network operative by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in the water industry such as:

  • Water Network Operative Level 2 Intermediate Apprenticeship
  • Water Industry Network Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship
  • Water Process Technician Level 3 Advanced Apprenticeship

Entry requirements

You'll usually need:

  • some GCSEs, usually including English and maths, or equivalent, for an intermediate apprenticeship
  • 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship

More Information

Direct Application

There are no set entry requirements to get into this job.

Employers might prefer it if you have GCSEs in English and maths.

It could be useful if you have experience in construction, plumbing, building services engineering or plant maintenance.

More Information

Further information

You can find out more about working and training in the water industry from Energy and Utilities Jobs.

What it takes

Find out what skills you’ll use in this role.

What it takes

Skills and knowledge

You'll need:

  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to operate and control equipment
  • the ability to work on your own
  • knowledge of maths
  • to be flexible and open to change
  • to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device

Restrictions and Requirements

You might need to be registered in one of the water industry safety passport schemes, supported by the Energy and Utilities Skills Register (EUSR). The safety passport proves that you are able to carry out work on the water network.

You might need a driving licence for some jobs.

What you’ll do

Discover the day to day tasks you’ll do in this role.

What you'll do

Day-to-day tasks

As a water network operative, you could:

  • dig holes by hand or with mechanical digging equipment
  • use maps and plans to trace where to dig
  • lay and repair water mains and pipes and install water meters and hydrants
  • check for and clear blockages in pipes and drains
  • maintain equipment and keep records of completed work and materials used

Working environment

Your working environment may be physically demanding and outdoors in all weathers.

You may need to wear protective clothing.

Career path and progression

Look at progression in this role and similar opportunities.

Career path and progression

With experience, you could progress to a team leader. 

With further training, you could become an engineering technician or water engineer.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Water Network Operative Apprentice

  • Wage: £10,400.00 Annually
  • Location: Bridgwater Road, Bristol

Leakage Technician Apprentice

  • Wage: £14,472.00 Annually
  • Location: Northampton

Courses In England

Water Regulations

  • Start date: 24 March 2023
  • Location: Eastleigh

BPEC Water Regulations

  • Start date: 26 May 2023
  • Location: Shrewsbury

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