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Life As a Bridge and Lock Tender

Position 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.

Bridge & Lock Tender Responsibilities

  • Check that bridges are clear of vehicles and pedestrians prior to opening.
  • Direct movements of vessels in locks or bridge areas, using signals, telecommunication equipment, or loudspeakers.
  • Raise drawbridges and observe passage of water traffic or lower drawbridges and raise automobile gates.
  • Perform maintenance duties such as sweeping, painting, and yard work to keep facilities clean and in order.
  • Inspect canal and bridge equipment, and areas such as roadbeds for damage or defects, reporting problems to supervisors as necessary.
  • Control machinery to open and close canal locks and dams, railroad or highway drawbridges, or horizontally or vertically adjustable bridges.

What Every Bridge & Lock Tender Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Bridge and Lock Tenders say are important on the job.

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.

Types of Bridge and Lock Tender

  • Dam Tender Assistant
  • Dam Tender
  • Lock and Dam Repairer
  • Bridge Operator, Slip
  • Lock Keeper

Job Outlook 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.


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.

Average Bridge and Lock Tenders Salary

The salary for Bridge and Lock Tenders ranges between about $24,490 and $63,620 a year.


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

How much do Bridge and Lock Tenders make 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 & Technology 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?

Learn what Bridge and Lock Tender education requirements there are.


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


Bridge and Lock Tenders Sector


Below are examples of industries where Bridge and Lock Tenders work:



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