Water, gas, oil, etc.

Water network operative

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

Annual Salary

£15,000 to £25,000

Working hours


Future employment

There will be 8% fewer Water network operative jobs in 2023.
In your local area

What's it all about?

You’ll carry out planned maintenance work, and respond to emergencies like burst pipes and major leaks. 

Your day-to-day duties could include:

  • digging holes by hand or with mechanical digging equipment
  • using maps and plans to trace where to dig
  • laying and repairing water mains and pipes
  • using closed circuit TV to check for blockages in pipes and drains
  • clearing blockages
  • installing water meters and hydrants
  • maintaining vehicles and equipment
  • recording details of completed work and materials used

There are no set entry requirements, but employers may ask for 3 to 5 GCSEs or equivalent including maths and English.

Experience of road working, construction or operating plant machinery could be helpful.

You may need a driving licence for some jobs.

You could also get into this job through an apprenticeship.

£15,000 to £25,000

Starter salary: £15,000 to £18,000

Experienced salary: £19,000 to £25,000

Overtime and shift allowances may increase your salary.

These figures are a guide.


You’ll work around 37 hours a week, plus any overtime if needed.

You’ll usually work a rota with a mixture of day shifts and some unsocial hours, as work is often carried out at night or the weekend to minimise disruption to traffic.

The work can be physically demanding and you’ll mainly work outdoors, in all weathers. 

You’ll be provided with protective clothing and equipment.


With experience, you could progress to team leader. 

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

Skills required and how your skills match up

What skills are required?

You'll need:

  • good practical skills
  • the ability to follow detailed instructions
  • a polite and professional manner when dealing with the public
My top 5 skills from the skills bank
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