As it often happens, a dealer was out on a service call for a very important customer. The time was approaching 5 p.m. and he was anxious to address his customer’s concern and head back to the office to tackle the mound of additional work that comes with running a water treatment dealership. The dealer thought that with his 30-plus years in the field, he’d seen every possible permutation of potential problems. But he was wrong, and despite staying up to date on his manufacturer’s equipment, he just couldn’t figure out what was causing the issue. The dealer called his manufacturer’s tech support and got Chris.* Within 15 minutes, the problem was solved, the customer was happy and the dealer knew he had chosen the right support system.

If you’re a manufacturer or OEM, do you have a ‘Chris?’ If you do, WQA’s manufacturer-focused Certified Treatment Designer (CTD) credential can help you promote that to your dealers and distributors. Dealers can find your Chris in WQA’s Certified Professionals listing and Treatment Provider search, right next to their own certified personnel.

Dealers understand the importance of professional certification for their own staff. That’s why they’re used to looking for Chris among their manufacturers’ sales and tech support staff and a CWS or MWS title next to the name. They know that Chris will speak their water treatment language. Many manufacturers and OEMs have personnel certified to the CWS/MWS titles and those titles are still valid. The Certified Treatment Designer is the next evolution of the Certified Water Specialist (CWS)/Master Water Specialist (MWS) specifically for business-to-business companies. If you don’t have a Chris, the Water Treatment Designer training program – a requirement for any CTD candidates with less than five years of experience – can help you develop one.

“As a water professional with more than 30 years in this industry, I was thrilled to be part of this endeavor,” said CTD task force chair Cliff Fasnacht, MWS, President and Owner of Pacific Purification and Dougherty Pump & Drilling, Inc., in Salinas, CA. “The task was to design a program uniquely tailored to a manufacturer’s technical and or sales staff. This program will give those who are qualified an excellent opportunity to reap the benefits of the education and certification.”

The need for our industry’s products and expertise has grown well beyond treating for hardness scale and iron stains. Residential dealers are called upon to protect the public from health-impacting contaminants such as nitrates, arsenates, lead, radionuclides and PFAS. They’re being asked to improve water quality for both private well owners and those getting their water from public water systems that are unable to comply with requirements or as-yet-unregulated contaminants.

As the dealers’ support system, manufacturers, suppliers and OEMs also need the expertise to deal with contaminants impacting health. They have to know how drinking water is regulated, how certified products fit with regulations, treatment technology capabilities and pitfalls, system sizing and treatment solution design. To help ensure that the technical sales and support personnel working with dealers understand the applications a dealer encounters in the field, the training for the CTD (the Water Treatment Design) course uses the same online platform and e-learning content as the CWS/MWS programs. The training covers water contaminants, water chemistry, hydrodynamics, and treatment application and sizing, using examples of residential water problems. The training gives the manufacturers’ personnel a window into their customer’s experience. The e-learning references common consumer questions and field situations from dealers or distributors. The multitude of contaminants and problematic conditions in an application often require treatment trains. Component manufacturers can use the training program to understand how their filter or injection pump fits into a treatment train. The more support they can offer their customers, the greater the added value of their product.

Where the CTD program diverges from the CWS/MWS is in the field practice requirements. Dealers interact with regulatory bodies such as licensing boards and environmental health professionals. They are on the front lines of credibility with those who could promote their work or block their ability to perform it. WQA’s dealer-focused certification titles integrate documented proof of hands-on experience with specific activities and applications to help dealers secure the ability to operate in the marketplace. Manufacturers’ personnel don’t have the same opportunity to work directly with consumers, but on-the-job experience is still considered critical to eligibility for certification. Many professional certification programs require a combination of formal training or education and on-the-job experience. To that end, certification exams emphasize the ability to perform job-related tasks over general knowledge.

To determine the tasks the exam should address, the Certified Treatment Designer (CTD) program began with a survey to manufacturer and OEM managers to elucidate the knowledge and skills they need in their technical sales and support personnel. From there, a task force developed an exam template and a small but dedicated group of WQA dealer and manufacturer members met just about every week for more than a year to create and fine-tune an exam. The exam aims to identify those in the technical sales, service and R&D engineering positions who meet the requirements set out by the survey responses.

“For the exam, we focused on real-world problems as seen through the eyes of the dealer. These problems require looking at the big picture when selecting the right treatment or when determining what went wrong with an installed system,” said CTD exam task force member Amanda Moore, CWS, Vice President of Atlantic Filter in West Palm Beach, FL.

Eligibility for the certification exam requires a minimum of two years of verifiable on-the-job experience in addition to completion of the Water Treatment Design course. Professionals with a minimum of five years of experience can bypass the training requirement. More information on the CTD credential, training, certification eligibility and the exam blueprint can be found at

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About the author
Serving as Water Quality Association’s Director of Professional Certification & Training since 2005, Tanya Lubner oversees the technical training content and delivery, certification exams, policies of the professional certification program, as well as program marketing and operations. She provides oversight for the technical education program for WQA’s annual convention and is the WQA staff liaison to the Professional Certification & Training Committee.


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