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Dredge Operator

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What is a Dredge Operator?

Job Description: Operate dredge to remove sand, gravel, or other materials in order to excavate and maintain navigable channels in waterways.

Life As a Dredge Operator

  • Direct or assist workers placing shore anchors and cables, laying additional pipes from dredges to shore, and pumping water from pontoons.
  • Pump water to clear machinery pipelines.
  • Start power winches that draw in or let out cables to change positions of dredges, or pull in and let out cables manually.
  • Lower anchor poles to verify depths of excavations, using winches, or scan depth gauges to determine depths of excavations.
  • 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.

What a Dredge Operator Should Know

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.

Other Dredge Operator Job Titles

  • Dredge Mate
  • Dredge Captain
  • Dredge Worker
  • Dredge Operator
  • Dredge Hand

Job Opportunities for Dredge Operators

There were about 1,800 jobs for Dredge Operator in 2016 (in the United States). 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.

What is the Average Salary of a Dredge Operator

Dredge Operators make between $30,760 and $66,040 a year.


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

What Tools do Dredge Operators Use?

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

Learn what Dredge Operator education requirements there are.


How many years of work experience do I need?


Who Employs Dredge Operators?


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


Similar Careers

Those thinking about becoming a Dredge Operator might also be interested in the following careers:

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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