Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

Operate railroad track switches. Couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Signal engineers by hand or flagging. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes.

Median Annual Wage: $52,360

Education: High school diploma or equivalent (87%); Less than high school diploma (7%); Post-secondary certificate (6%)

Projected Growth: Decline (-3% or lower)

Related Job Titles: Carman; Transportation Specialist; Railroad Switchman; Brakeman; Terminal Carman; Trainman; Switch Foreman; Trains Service Conductor; Locomotive Switch Operator; Railroad Brakeman

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Source: O*NET OnLine information for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators.

More Transportation and Material Moving Careers

  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
  • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.
  • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
  • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
  • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
  • Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
  • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops to warn oncoming trains.
  • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators.

  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Quality Control Analysis - Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.

Source: O*NET OnLine information for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators.

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