1. Home: Explore careers
  2. Water network operative

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, businesses and industry 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 may get into this career by doing an intermediate or advanced apprenticeship in the water industry.

The following apprenticeships may be relevant to this role:

  • Level 2 Water network operative
  • Level 3 Water process technician

This will usually take 16 months to complete. You'll do on-the-job training and spend time with a college or training provider.

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 for this job though employers may prefer you to have a good general standard of education like GCSEs in English and maths.

Experience in construction, plumbing, building services engineering or plant maintenance could be useful.

More Information

Further information

You'll find more details about working and training in the water industry from Energy & 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 may need to be registered in one of the water industry safety passport schemes, supported by the Energy & Utilities Skills Register (EUSR). The safety passport proves that you are competent to carry out work on the water network.

You may 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

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
  • use closed circuit TV to check for blockages in pipes and drains
  • clear blockages
  • install water meters and hydrants
  • maintain vehicles and equipment
  • record details 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

Apprentice Pipe Fitter/Main Layer

  • Wage: £11,255.40 to £22,230.00 Annually
  • Location: Coursers Road, Colney Heath, St. Albans

Courses In England

Water Regulations

  • Start date: 06 March 2023
  • Location: Eastleigh

BPEC Water Regulations

  • Start date: 27 May 2023
  • Location: Shrewsbury

Jobs In the United Kingdom

The Find a job service can help you with your search for jobs and send alerts when new jobs become available.

Skills assessment

Take an assessment to learn more about your skills and the careers that might suit you.

Is this page useful?

Yes No

Thank you for your feedback.

Thank you for your feedback. Click here if you'd like to let us know how we can improve the service.