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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: What Do They Do?

  • Lower anchor poles to verify depths of excavations, using winches, or scan depth gauges to determine depths of excavations.
  • Start power winches that draw in or let out cables to change positions of dredges, or pull in and let out cables manually.
  • Start and stop engines to operate equipment.
  • 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.
  • 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

When polled, Dredge Operators say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

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.

  • Dredge Captain
  • Dredge Mate
  • Dredge Worker
  • Leverman
  • Dredge Hand

Dredge Operator Job Outlook

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. There will be an estimated 200 positions for Dredge Operator per 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 salary for Dredge Operators ranges between about $30,760 and $66,040 a year.


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

How much do Dredge Operators make in each U.S. state?

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

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Dredge Operators:

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

Becoming a Dredge Operator

What education or degrees do I need to become a Dredge Operator?


What work experience do I need to become a Dredge Operator?


Where Dredge Operators Are Employed


Dredge Operators work in the following 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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