Dam Operator

Manage the daily operations and flow of a dam.

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$24,000 – $57,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Dam Operators do?

A Dam Operator opens waterways for vessel passage. Falling under the broader category of Bridge And Lock Tenders, a Dam Operator controls dams near bridges, locks, and lighthouses. Working with the Dam Director or Dam Supervisor, the Dam Operator manages daily operations to ensure that the dam runs properly.

As a Dam Operator, you draw on your time management, critical thinking, and reasoning skills, along with your ability to follow directions. You operate equipment such as control valves and dam gates as required to monitor and adjust pressure in the dam.

Your days are rarely the same. They can get dicey during times of high water flow, such as thunderstorms or snowstorms. When the weather turns cold, depending on the region of your employment, you may also be required to deal with the presence of ice and the threats that come with it.

Although not typically a requirement, basic technical experience is helpful in this position. Working second, third, or swing shift may mean that minor repairs and adjustments are your responsibility at times. Knowing your way around basic equipment repairs may be the added boost that gets you the job or gives you a leg up when it comes time for a promotion.

You may get lonely, since you’re likely to work by yourself most of the time. Physical strength and stamina are also necessary, as you’re required to sit, stand, lift, bend, and climb repeatedly throughout your shift.


Should I be a Dam Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Calm Under Pressure: You keep your cool when dealing with highly stressful situations.
  • Trustworthy: You are known for your personal integrity and honesty.
  • Levelheaded: You hold your emotions in check, even in tough situations.

  • Also known as: Canal-Structure Operator, Dam Attendant, Marine Tower Operator

    How to become a Dam Operator

    Most Dam Operators have no higher education and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate to increase your competitiveness in the field. Chart?chd=s:9haaaa&chl=no+college+%2889%25%29|certificate+%2811%25%29||||&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,89,89
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