Railroad Workers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more
- Education Required
- Rail companies typically require a high school diploma or equivalent, especially for locomotive engineers and conductors.
- Training Required
- Locomotive engineers generally receive 2 to 3 months of on-the-job training before they can operate a train on their own. Typically, this training involves riding with an experienced engineer who teaches them the characteristics of that particular train route.
- Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: -3% (Decline)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
- Rail yard engineers, switch operators, and signal operators can advance to become conductors or yardmasters. Some conductors or yardmasters advance to become locomotive engineers.
- Locomotive engineers must be certified by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The certification, conducted by the railroad that employs them, involves a written knowledge test, a skills test, and a supervisor determining that the engineer understands all physical aspects of the particular route on which he or she will be operating.
- Median pay: How much do Railroad Workers make?
- $57,160 Annual Salary
- $27.48 per hour
Workers in railroad occupations ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains, and others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.
What do Railroad Workers do?
Railroad workers typically do the following:
- Check the mechanical condition of locomotives and make adjustments when necessary
- Document issues with a train that require further inspection
- Operate locomotive engines within or between stations
Freight trains move billions of tons of goods around the country to ports where they are shipped around the world. Passenger trains transport millions of passengers and commuters to destinations around the country. These railroad workers are essential to keeping freight and passenger trains running properly.
All workers in railroad occupations work together closely. Locomotive engineers travel with conductors and sometimes brake operators. Locomotive engineers and conductors are in constant contact and keep each other informed of any changes in the condition of the train.
Signal and switch operators communicate with both locomotive and rail yard engineers to make sure that trains end up at the correct destination. All occupations are in contact with dispatchers who give them directions on where to go and what to do.
The following are examples of types of railroad workers:
Careers for Railroad Workers
- Coal tram drivers
- Diesel locomotive firers
- Dinkey drivers
- Dinkey engine firers
- Dinkey operators
- Engine hostlers
- Freight brake operators
- Freight conductors
- Freight engineers
- Locomotive engineers
- Locomotive firers
- Locomotive switch operators
- Passenger car conductors
- Rail yard engineers
- Railcar switchers
- Railroad brake operators
- Railroad brake, signal, or switch operators
- Railroad engineers
- Railroad firers
- Railway engineers
- Railway switch operators
- Switch couplers
- Train brake operators
- Train conductors
- Train engineers
- Yard conductors
- Yard hostlers