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Career profile Dredge Operator

Also known as Dredge Operator, Dredger

Dredge Operator

Also known as Dredge Operator, Dredger

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Enterprising
Pay Range
$33,420 - $81,160 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Operation and Control
  • Operations Monitoring
  • Critical Thinking
Knowledge Areas
  • Mechanical
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Administration and Management
Core tasks
  • Move levers to position dredges for excavation, to engage hydraulic pumps, to raise and lower suction booms, and to control rotation of cutterheads.
  • Start and stop engines to operate equipment.
  • Start power winches that draw in or let out cables to change positions of dredges, or pull in and let out cables manually.
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What does a Dredge Operator do?

Dredge Operators operate dredge to remove sand, gravel, or other materials in order to excavate and maintain navigable channels in waterways.

What kind of tasks does a Dredge Operator perform regularly?

Dredge Operators are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

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

The above responsibilities are specific to Dredge Operators. More generally, Dredge Operators are involved in several broader types of activities:

Controlling Machines and Processes
Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Handling and Moving Objects
Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings
Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.

What is a Dredge Operator salary?

The median salary for a Dredge Operator is $49,210, and the average salary is $53,790. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Dredge Operator salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Dredge Operators earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Dredge Operators earn less than $33,420 per year, 25% earn less than $39,310, 75% earn less than $67,900, and 90% earn less than $81,160.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Dredge Operators is expected to change by 5.0%, and there should be roughly 300 open positions for Dredge Operators every year.

Median annual salary
Typical salary range
$33,420 - $81,160
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)

What personality traits are common among Dredge Operators?


Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Dredge Operator are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Dredge Operators typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.


People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Dredge Operator tend to value Support, Relationships, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Dredge Operators moderately value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Dredge Operators moderately value Relationships. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment.

Lastly, Dredge Operators somewhat value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Dredge Operators must consistently demonstrate qualities such as concern for others, leadership, and cooperation.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Dredge Operators, ranked by importance:

Concern for Others
Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.

What education and training do Dredge Operators need?

Working as a Dredge Operator usually requires a high school diploma.

Dredge Operators need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Dredge Operators

  • 16.4% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 57.7% completed high school or secondary school
  • 20.1% completed some college coursework
  • 2.9% earned a Associate's degree
  • 2.2% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 0.7% earned a Master's degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Dredge Operators

Dredge Operators may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as mechanical, public safety and security, or administration and management knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Dredge Operators might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Administration and Management
Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
Production and Processing
Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

Important Abilities needed by Dredge Operators

Dredge Operators must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Dredge Operators need abilities such as control precision, multilimb coordination, and depth perception in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Dredge Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Multilimb Coordination
The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
Depth Perception
The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Critical Skills needed by Dredge Operators

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Dredge Operators frequently use skills like operation and control, operations monitoring, and critical thinking to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Dredge Operators, ranked by their relative importance.

Operation and Control
Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operations Monitoring
Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
Judgment and Decision Making
Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

If you have any questions or suggestions about this information, please send a message.