Job type

Lock keeper

£17k - £28k

Typical salary

30 – 47

Hours per week

Lock keepers open and close lock gates on canals and rivers to allow leisure and commercial boats to pass through.

More info

  • Look after the lock gates on canals and rivers to enable boats to pass through
  • You'll spend lots of time outdoors and the work can be quite physically demanding
  • You could move into waterways management or conservation roles

As a lock keeper, you'll be in charge and responsible for opening and closing lock gates, as well as for daily problems that may arise.


  • Managing lock bookings from waterway users approaching the locks
  • Opening and closing lock gates safely by hand or using a computer
  • Carrying out general maintenance on lock mechanisms
  • Opening relief sluices in bad weather or flooding
  • Clearing rubbish and weeds from the lock, giving advice to waterway users in person or by radio
  • Reporting incidents like fly-tipping, poaching and damage to wildlif
  • Talking to community groups and schools about your work


Your shifts may be linked to tidal patterns if you work on a tidal river. They'll also depend on the season. In summer, you'll work longer hours, usually from early morning until dusk. 

The job can be physically demanding and you'll work in all weathers.

You'll need

To be a lock keeper, you'll need patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations, to work well with others, thoroughness and attention to detail, the ability to accept criticism and work well under pressure, knowledge of public safety and security, sensitivity and understanding, English language knowledge, and physical skills.

There are no set entry requirements, but you'll need to be friendly and approachable. 

Working as a volunteer lock keeper during the busier summer months is a good way to start, and you'll be trained on the job in lock operations and safety.

The Canal & River Trust has more information about work and volunteering opportunities.


With experience, you may be able to move into coordinating volunteer training or deal with fundraising for waterway conservation projects.