Well Driller Licensing Process

Revised: October 16, 2019
The following steps are required to become licensed as a Water Well Driller in the State of Utah:

    1. Complete and submit a signed and notarized well drillers license application and a signed Lawful Presence Certificate. This must be accomplished prior to scheduling any exams. The Water Rights staff will need up to one week to evaluate the application information and contact references, if necessary, to verify adequate drilling experience before exams can be scheduled.

    2. Pay a $350 non-refundable application fee to be submitted with the application. If a check or money order is submitted, it must be made payable to the "The Utah State Engineer".

    3. Take the following written tests and pass each test with a score of 70% or better:
      a. Administrative Rules for Water Well Drillers Test (includes administrative requirements and minimum construction standards)
      b. Well Location and Map Reading Test
      c. General Groundwater and Well Test
      d. Operation/Rig Test (there is a separate test for cable tool, mud rotary, air rotary, reverse circulation, and well rehab, repair, cleaning, and development)
      e. Monitor Well Test (this test is required only if you intend to install monitor wells)
      f. Other exams as required for a limited license.

    After the Water Rights staff reviews the driller application, they will contact the driller to schedule the appropriate exams. As mentioned in requirement no. 1, it may take up to one week to review the application. To take the necessary tests, please fill out and submit the enclosed application form and the application fee and make a testing appointment with our office.

    Tests may be taken at any of the Water Rights regional offices (Logan, Vernal, Price, Richfield, or Cedar City) if arrangements are made in advance, but you must notify us if that is your intention. Click here for a contact list of well drilling and regional office staff.

    The written licensing exams are to be taken closed-book. Test takers are not allowed to review any materials or text books while taking the exams. Logistically, all that is needed to complete the exams is a pencil with an eraser. However, there are one or two questions in which a calculator could be used. Use of a calculator is acceptable. The driller may also use a ruler, engineers scale, or map scale to complete the map reading questions. The driller can bring his/her own scaling devices or borrow one from the Water Rights office.

    In order to obtain a license, drillers must take at least four exams; the Administrative Rules Exam, the Well Location and Map Reading Exam, the General Groundwater and Wells exam, and the exam specific to the drilling method or operation that they plan to utilize. Drilling method/operation exams include Mud Rotary, Air Rotary, Reverse Rotary, Cable Tool, well rehab/repair/cleaning/development, and Monitoring Wells. Drillers must take at least one of these drilling method/operation exams, but they may take more than one if they request. The Administrative Rules exam will be administered first, followed by the Well Location and Map Reading Exam, and the General Groundwater and Rules exam, concluding with the drilling method exam(s).

    Each exam consists of 8 to 150 questions, consisting of multiple choice questions, true-false questions, and fill-in-the-blank/short answer questions. It is strongly advised that no question be left unanswered, even if the test taker is unsure of the answer, in that partial credit can be given for an incomplete answer. For the Well Location and Map Reading Exam, the applicant should be familiar with reading a standard USGS 7.5 minute (1:24,000 scale) topographic quadrangle map. The driller should understand the Township & Range cadastral coordinate system (Public Land Survey) and be able to use this system with the USGS topographical maps. Approved well locations depicted on driller start cards and well logs in Utah are always in the Township & Range system, so it is important that the driller understands this system. If the applicant does not understand this system, the Water Rights staff can provide, upon request, a short map reading training prior to taking the exams. The applicant should call the Water Rights office to schedule the training.

    The majority of the questions on the Administrative Rules exam are derived directly from the Water Well Handbook which includes the Administrative Rules for Water Well Drillers, selected well drilling-related water right statutes, and guidance memorandums on reporting requirements and the well drilling authorization/approval process. The Utah Division of Drinking Water rules for Public Supply Wells can be accessed by clicking here or by calling that agency at (801)536-4200.. No other study materials should be required for this exam. The General Groundwater and Wells exam consists of questions pertaining to groundwater hydrogeology for well drilling and well applications that apply to all drilling techniques. Several good reference books pertaining to this subject include:

    • Groundwater and Wells authored by Fletcher Driscoll and published by U.S. Filter Johnson Screens
    • Ground Water Hydrology for Water Well Contractors authored by Stuart Smith and published by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA)
    • Well Drilling Operations published by the NGWA
    • Manual of Water Well Construction Practices published by the NGWA

    These reference books as well as others related to the well drilling industry can be obtained from the NGWA Bookstore (800-551-7379). Each separate operation/rig exam consists of questions related to that specific well drilling/construction method. Experienced drillers should know and understand most of this materials because it is applied information that they should be using in their everyday drilling operations. Some basic reference books pertaining to well drilling methods include those references listed above as well as the following:

    • Water Well Driller's Beginning Training Manual published by the NGWA
    • Well Drilling Manual published by the NGWA)

    These references can also be obtained from the NGWA Bookstore.

    Only one exam shall be provided to the driller per sitting. That is, the Administrative Rules exam shall be given to the driller first. The driller must complete this exam and turn it into the administrator before taking an extended break and before receiving the General Groundwater and Wells exam and so forth until the driller has completed all of his/her exams. The driller should only have one exam in his possession at a time. Once completed with an exam, the driller cannot request to have it back and make changes to it.

    The driller can take more than one day to complete the exams. However, any single exam must be completed on the day the driller started working on the exam. For example, a driller cannot start a rig exam on one day and return the next day and complete the same rig exam. It is recommended the driller start taking the exams as early as possible in the day to allow sufficient time for completion. On average, it takes drillers one to two hours to complete a given exam and approximately four to five hours to complete the minimum three-exam test.

    A score of at least 70% must be obtained on each exam to be considered successful. The driller need only retake the exam for which a score of less than 70% was obtained. If an exam is failed, the driller will not be informed of the specific incorrect questions/answers or be allowed to review the failed exam. However, if requested, we will provide the driller with general guidance, topics, and issues pertaining to the incorrect questions which will assist the driller in studying for the exam retake. Failed exams may be retaken at any time upon proper scheduling with the SLC and/or regional offices.

    The tests will be graded as soon as possible, however, it may up to one week before the test results are available. The Water Rights office will notify the applicant by telephone or letter of exam results. The applicant may also call the Water Rights office to request the scores if they are graded.

    4. Have an oral exam/interview with the administrators of the Water Well Drilling Program (this may be done in person or by telephone). If the applicant passes each test with a score of 70% or better, the oral exam/interview (approximately 30 minutes) will be scheduled. The oral exam will be conducted at either the Salt Lake office or a regional office and will be scheduled after the written exams are passed. For convenience, the interview may be done before the tests are graded if the program administrators are available. The oral exam will be conducted by well drilling program administrators, and may also include the regional engineer of the area where the driller intends to drill, if applicable.

    5. Submit either a $5000 cash bond or a $5000 surety bond using either the cash bond form or the surety bond form. Keep in mind that a Utah Water Well Driller's License is issued to individual drillers and not to drilling companies. The same applies to the bond in that every licensed driller must obtain their own bond. That is, regardless of the number of licensed drillers working for one company, each licensed driller must post their own bond, under their name, with the State Engineer Office.

After proper submission of the application and fee, successful completion of written and oral exams, and upon receipt of the $5000 bond, the Utah Water Well Drillers License will be issued. The license documentation will consist of a portrait-sized license certificate as well as a laminated card-sized certificate that can be carried in a driller's wallet. Keep in mind that the well driller's license must be renewed every other year at the end of June as per the driller's last name (A-L on odd years and M-Z on even years). Renewal requirements consist of submission of a renewal application, a $100 renewal fee, submission of proof of at least 12 continuing education credits, and proof of bond continuation. In addition, the driller must be current on all start card and well log submissions for the previous licensing period before a license can be renewed.

Click here for a contact list, if you have any questions concerning this material or the licensing process.