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Water network operative

Alternative titles for this job include Leakage operative, distribution technician, network service technician

Water network operatives lay and maintain the pipes, mains and pumping stations that supply water to homes and businesses.

Average salary (a year)

£18,000 Starter


£30,000 Experienced

Typical hours (a week)

37 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 Water network operative

You can get into this job through:

  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly


You could take a college course, which will teach you some of the skills you'll need in this job. 

Courses include:

  • construction skills
  • construction operations (civil engineering)

After completing your course, you could contact water companies to find out about trainee positions.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements for these courses vary.

More Information


You could apply to a company to do an apprenticeship, such as:

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

These take between 2 and 3 years to complete.

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

Employers will set their own entry requirements for vacancies but some may prefer you to have GCSEs in English and maths.

You might have an advantage when applying, if you have experience in construction groundworks, plumbing, building services engineering or roadworks.

More Information

Career tips

Utility companies can use sub-contractors on some jobs, so it's worth checking with construction firms for potential vacancies.

Further information

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

You can also check the careers and jobs sections of water company websites.

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 operate and control equipment
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail
  • knowledge of public safety and security
  • observation and recording skills
  • the ability to use, repair and maintain machines and tools
  • excellent verbal communication skills
  • 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 may 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 also 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:

  • set up site safety measures like traffic lights and barriers
  • dig trenches by hand or with a mechanical digger
  • monitor water flow and pressure data to find weak spots and leaks
  • lay or repair water mains and install meters and hydrants
  • detect blockages in pipes and drains and clear them
  • maintain equipment and keep records of completed work

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 and further training, you could become a:

  • team supervisor
  • project manager
  • leakage inspector
  • quality control officer

You could also work on water engineering schemes or at a treatment works.

Current opportunities

Find apprenticeships, courses and jobs available near you.

Current opportunities

Apprenticeships In England

Water Network Operative Apprentice

  • Wage: £13,520 a year Annually
  • Location: Bridgwater Road, Bristol

Courses In England

Water Regulations

  • Start date: 16 September 2024
  • Location: Crawley

Water Regulations

  • Start date: 18 July 2024
  • Location: Abingdon

Jobs In the United Kingdom

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