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Details for Bridge and Lock Tenders


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 tenders and operators, and slip bridge operators.


  • Move levers to activate traffic signals, navigation lights, and alarms.
  • Record names, types, and destinations of vessels passing through bridge openings or locks, and numbers of trains or vehicles crossing bridges.
  • Control machinery to open and close canal locks and dams, railroad or highway drawbridges, or horizontally or vertically adjustable bridges.
  • Direct movements of vessels in locks or bridge areas, using signals, telecommunication equipment, or loudspeakers.
  • Prepare accident reports.
  • Observe approaching vessels to determine size and speed, and listen for whistle signals indicating desire to pass.
  • Observe position and progress of vessels to ensure best utilization of lock spaces or bridge opening spaces.
  • Maintain and guard stations in bridges to check waterways for boat traffic.
  • Inspect canal and bridge equipment, and areas such as roadbeds for damage or defects, reporting problems to supervisors as necessary.
  • Clean and lubricate equipment, and make minor repairs and adjustments.
  • Log data such as water levels and weather conditions.
  • Write and submit maintenance work requisitions.
  • Perform maintenance duties such as sweeping, painting, and yard work to keep facilities clean and in order.
  • Check that bridges are clear of vehicles and pedestrians prior to opening.
  • Turn valves to increase or decrease water levels in locks.
  • Stop automobile and pedestrian traffic on bridges, and lower automobile gates prior to moving bridges.
  • Raise drawbridges and observe passage of water traffic, then lower drawbridges and raise automobile gates.
  • Operate lighthouses to assist marine passage near shores and dangerous waters.
  • Add and remove balance weights to bridge mechanisms as necessary.
  • Attach ropes or cable lines to bitts on lock decks or wharfs to secure vessels.


  • Realistic - 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.
  • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - Some of these occupations may require a high school diploma or GED certificate.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few days to a few months of training. Usually, an experienced worker could show you how to do the job.
  • Experience - Little or no previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, a person can become a waiter or waitress even if he/she has never worked before.



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