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Life As a Bridge and Lock Tender

Job Description: Operate and tend bridges, canal locks, and lighthouses to permit marine passage on inland waterways, near shores, and at danger points in waterway passages. May supervise such operations. Includes drawbridge operators, lock operators, and slip bridge operators.

What Do Bridge and Lock Tenders Do On a Daily Basis?

  • Stop automobile and pedestrian traffic on bridges, and lower automobile gates prior to moving bridges.
  • Prepare accident reports.
  • Check that bridges are clear of vehicles and pedestrians prior to opening.
  • Perform maintenance duties such as sweeping, painting, and yard work to keep facilities clean and in order.
  • Record names, types, and destinations of vessels passing through bridge openings or locks, and numbers of trains or vehicles crossing bridges.
  • Log data such as water levels and weather conditions.

Bridge & Lock Tender Needed Skills

These are the skills Bridge and Lock Tenders say are the most useful in their careers:

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

Other Bridge & Lock Tender Job Titles

  • Drawbridge Operator
  • Lock Master
  • Marine Tower Operator
  • Draw Operator
  • Chief Lock Tender Operator

Is There Job Demand for Bridge and Lock Tenders?

There were about 3,700 jobs for Bridge and Lock Tender in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 2.7% which is below the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 100 new jobs for Bridge and Lock Tender by 2026. There will be an estimated 400 positions for Bridge & Lock Tender per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Bridge and Lock Tenders in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Bridge & Lock Tender are Oregon, Kentucky, and Florida. Watch out if you plan on working in West Virginia, Washington, or Texas. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Bridge & Lock Tender Salary

The typical yearly salary for Bridge and Lock Tenders is somewhere between $24,490 and $63,620.

Salary Ranges for Bridge and Lock Tenders

Bridge and Lock Tenders who work in Minnesota, Illinois, or Iowa, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Bridge and Lock Tenders in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Arkansas $48,410
California $51,520
Florida $34,090
Illinois $62,830
Indiana $54,410
Iowa $55,230
Kentucky $51,470
Louisiana $34,420
Maryland $43,420
Massachusetts $53,430
Michigan $43,560
Minnesota $59,860
Mississippi $43,070
Missouri $55,960
New Jersey $49,880
New York $48,250
Ohio $50,890
Pennsylvania $54,010
South Carolina $46,580
Tennessee $52,410
Texas $35,330
West Virginia $54,680
Wisconsin $49,890

What Tools do Bridge and Lock Tenders Use?

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Bridge and Lock Tenders:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Email software
  • Word processing software
  • Oracle PeopleSoft
  • SAP software
  • Virtual private networking VPN software

How do I Become a Bridge & Lock Tender?

Education needed to be a Bridge and Lock Tender:

Bridge & Lock Tender Degree Level

How Long Does it Take to Become a Bridge & Lock Tender?

Bridge & Lock Tender Work Experience

Where do Bridge and Lock Tenders Work?

Bridge & Lock Tender Sectors

The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.

Bridge & Lock Tender Industries


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More about our data sources and methodologies.

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