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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

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All About Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

Job Description & Duties 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.

Life As a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

  • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
  • Refuel and lubricate engines.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.
  • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
  • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.

What a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Should Know

Below is a list of the skills most Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators say are important on the job.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

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.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Other Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Job Titles

  • Lineman Apprentice
  • Engineer
  • Area Brakeman
  • Set Rider
  • Car Runner

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Job Outlook

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 19,300 jobs in the United States for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 1,700 job openings in this field each year.

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The states with the most job growth for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator are Nebraska, Texas, and Washington. Watch out if you plan on working in Louisiana, Tennessee, or Wisconsin. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Salary

The typical yearly salary for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators is somewhere between $34,610 and $85,590.

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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators who work in South Carolina, Massachusetts, or Minnesota, make the highest salaries.

How much do Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $48,250
Arkansas $45,000
Florida $39,450
Georgia $54,570
Illinois $63,030
Indiana $51,600
Iowa $49,980
Kansas $63,980
Kentucky $49,850
Louisiana $54,650
Maryland $60,100
Massachusetts $70,560
Michigan $60,940
Minnesota $67,900
Missouri $63,610
Montana $56,520
Nebraska $61,200
New Jersey $57,610
New York $72,170
North Carolina $57,250
Ohio $58,440
Oklahoma $61,580
Oregon $65,970
Pennsylvania $56,080
South Carolina $72,930
Texas $57,890
Utah $49,270
Virginia $46,540
Washington $66,160
West Virginia $49,550
Wisconsin $65,780
Wyoming $58,390

What Tools do Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators may use on a daily basis:

  • Data entry software
  • Route mapping software
  • Time tracking software
  • Electronic train management systems ETMS

How do I Become a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator?

Are there Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators education requirements?

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How Long Does it Take to Become a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator?

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Where Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators Are Employed

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The table below shows the approximate number of Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators employed by various industries.

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Those interested in being a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator may also be interested in:

References:

Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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