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Dredge Operator

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What Do Dredge Operator Do?

Example of Dredge Operator Job Operate dredge to remove sand, gravel, or other materials in order to excavate and maintain navigable channels in waterways.

A Day in the Life of a Dredge Operator

  • Lower anchor poles to verify depths of excavations, using winches, or scan depth gauges to determine depths of excavations.
  • Pump water to clear machinery pipelines.
  • Direct or assist workers placing shore anchors and cables, laying additional pipes from dredges to shore, and pumping water from pontoons.
  • Start and stop engines to operate equipment.
  • Move levers to position dredges for excavation, to engage hydraulic pumps, to raise and lower suction booms, and to control rotation of cutterheads.
  • Start power winches that draw in or let out cables to change positions of dredges, or pull in and let out cables manually.

Skills Needed to be a Dredge Operator

Below is a list of the skills most Dredge Operators say are important on the job.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Judgment and Decision Making: Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.

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

Troubleshooting: Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.

  • Operating Engineer
  • Leverman
  • Crane Operator
  • Dredge Lever Operator
  • Dredgemaster

Job Demand for Dredge Operators

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 1,800 jobs in the United States for Dredge Operator. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 5.6% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 100 new jobs for Dredge Operator by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 200 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Dredge Operator are Florida, South Carolina, and Missouri. Watch out if you plan on working in Tennessee, Ohio, or North Carolina. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Salary for a Dredge Operator

The typical yearly salary for Dredge Operators is somewhere between $30,760 and $66,040.


Dredge Operators who work in California, Indiana, or South Carolina, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Dredge Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
California $62,270
Florida $46,050
Indiana $49,510
Iowa $42,600
Louisiana $46,670
Maryland $46,160
Missouri $47,750
Nebraska $34,410
Ohio $41,610
Oklahoma $40,300
Pennsylvania $41,980
South Carolina $53,800
Texas $44,120

Tools & Technologies Used by Dredge Operators

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Dredge Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Web browser software
  • Data entry software
  • Global positioning system GPS software
  • Programmable logic controller PLC software
  • Trimble HYDROpro

Becoming a Dredge Operator

What education is needed to be a Dredge Operator?


How Long Does it Take to Become a Dredge Operator?


Dredge Operators Sector


The table below shows the approximate number of Dredge Operators employed by various industries.


Those interested in being a Dredge Operator may also be interested in:

Are you already one of the many Dredge Operator in the United States? If you’re thinking about changing careers, these fields are worth exploring:


Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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