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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

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All About Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

Job Description: 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.

List of Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Job Duties

  • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops to warn oncoming trains.
  • Watch for and relay traffic signals to start and stop cars during shunting.
  • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Needed Skills

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators state the following job skills are important in their day-to-day work.

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.

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.

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

  • Set Rider
  • Terminal Carman
  • Switching Operator
  • Track Helper
  • Brake Rider

Are There Job Opportunities for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 19,300 jobs in the United States for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators.

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator jobs are decreasing by a rate of -1.6%. This means the total job opportunities are shrinking. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a loss of -300 jobs for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators by 2026. The BLS estimates 1,700 yearly job openings in this field per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators are Texas, Nebraska, and Illinois.

Watch out if you plan on working in Louisiana, Tennessee, or Georgia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Make?

The average yearly salary of a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator ranges between $34,610 and $85,590. The median salary for this occupation is $57,260.

Salary Ranges for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for jobs of this type in different U.S. states.

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary

South Carolina

$72,930

New York

$72,170

Massachusetts

$70,560

Minnesota

$67,900

Washington

$66,160

Oregon

$65,970

Wisconsin

$65,780

Kansas

$63,980

Missouri

$63,610

Illinois

$63,030

Oklahoma

$61,580

Nebraska

$61,200

Michigan

$60,940

Maryland

$60,100

Ohio

$58,440

Wyoming

$58,390

Texas

$57,890

New Jersey

$57,610

North Carolina

$57,250

Montana

$56,520

Pennsylvania

$56,080

Louisiana

$54,650

Georgia

$54,570

Indiana

$51,600

Iowa

$49,980

Kentucky

$49,850

West Virginia

$49,550

Utah

$49,270

Alabama

$48,250

Virginia

$46,540

Arkansas

$45,000

Florida

$39,450

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

Becoming a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

Individuals working as Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators have obtained the following education levels:

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Work Experience

Where Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators Work

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Sectors

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

  • Aircraft Structure, Surfaces, Rigging, and Systems Assemblers

References

Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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