If you’re looking to become a certified backflow tester, there are two things that you’ll need – to take a certification course and purchase a gauge. Because state and local requirements vary a great deal, it’s best to start by finding your local chapter of the American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA) or the American Water Works Association (AWWA). You can also try searching online by entering the name of your state and the phrase “backflow testing requirements.” When I entered “Oregon backflow testing requirements” in a search engine, the first results that came up were from a trusted state website.
Becoming a backflow tester requires a certification. Your initial certification takes 40 hours, and the class typically runs through a regular work week of Monday through Friday. It costs anywhere from $600-$1,000 to take the initial certification classes to become a backflow technician, which varies by state and the company offering the class.
If you also want to be certified for backflow repair work, many areas will require additional licensing and potentially classes. This can range from a limited plumber’s license to a master plumbing license, depending on where you’re working. Again, the ABPA or AWWA can be helpful in determining if you need this.
If you’re working in a metro area that spans a few states, you’ll need to double check if you need to do anything special. In many cases, states have a reciprocity agreement and you’ll just need to pay another licensing fee to the other state. In other places, they’ll both use the AWWA or ABPA certification.
When you need to become re-certified, you can typically choose to take online or in-person classes, which must add up to a total of eight hours. Again, check state and local requirements about how often you need to renew your certification. Just don’t forget! Otherwise, you won’t be able to test, and you’ll have to pay an extra fee. It’s better to get those renewal classes done early – the ones later in the year book up early because everyone forgets to get them done until they are about to expire.
After certification, the only other thing you need to do is purchase a backflow testing gauge, which you’ll find out about in your certification class. There are some really great options on the market, and the prices also vary greatly. A quick search online found gauges costing anywhere between $500-$2600. That’s a VERY wide range, so I’d suggest asking your certification instructor for their opinion and reading online reviews as well.
It’s also worth noting that while most gauges are mechanical, there are some really cool digital options on the market now, including the Mako MK5 by Arbiter.
Once you’re certified and have a gauge, you’re ready to test! Whether you want to work for a backflow testing company or for yourself, your local ABPA or AWWA chapter can give you guidance on how to get started. And while you’re at it, be sure to reach out to our team at Syncta ([email protected]) or sign up for a free trial at https://app.syncta.com/en/signup to see how our software can help increase your efficiency and your bottom line.