DISCOVERING A PASSION FOR THE WATER INDUSTRY
ALAN C. CRANFORD, PO – STONES RIVER WATER TREATMENT PLANT, MURFREESBORO WATER AND SEWER DEPARTMENT, CITY OF MURFREESBORO, TN
Not many can say that they started their lifelong career when they were just seven years old, but Alan Cranford, PO knew from a very early age exactly what he wanted to do – begin a hands-on water and wastewater career. Working alongside his dad, manager of an Alabama water system, Alan pulled weeds, mowed the grass, and picked up trash around the plant and by age eight, he was collecting water samples and running basic lab tests. “Over a seven-year period I found that I enjoyed pretty much every aspect of the water and wastewater service,” Alan said. “It was a career that gave back to the community as you served each customer with life-sustaining water.”
Alan went on to become a water treatment specialist for the National Guard and earned an associate degree in Water and Wastewater Management and a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration, despite the difficulty at the time of finding courses for those interested in a hands-on water or wastewater career. “I believe that the future of the operator will be one who has at a minimum an Associate’s degree or higher with a focus in water or wastewater, chemistry, biology, and mathematics,” Alan said. “I believe we will see supervisors and managers that are going to have at least a Bachelor’s degree or higher, but, they will also hold a Professional Operator designation.”
Alan puts much of his focus on the educational aspects of his profession, and when he was introduced to the PO certification and designation, recognized its benefits. “Becoming a Professional Operator demonstrates that you, as an operator, are willing to go above and beyond to demonstrate that you have the mental competency to be a professional,” he said. “A Professional Operator isn’t just an operator who does all the day-to-day tasks of operating a plant, but is one that strives to learn more new and advanced technological equipment, stretch their mind, and thinks outside of the box.” Alan earned his Professional Operator designation in 2015 and was recognized alongside fellow POs during a POWER pinning ceremony in Anaheim, California during ACE15. He has continued his commitment to the PO program by encouraging all of his operators to pursue earning their own PO certifications.