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Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

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All About Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

Position Description Coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within railroad yard, industrial plant, or similar location. Conductors coordinate activities of train crew on passenger or freight trains. Yardmasters review train schedules and switching orders and coordinate activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains and yard switching.

Life As a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster: What Do They Do?

  • Verify accuracy of timekeeping instruments with engineers to ensure trains depart on time.
  • Direct engineers to move cars to fit planned train configurations, combining or separating cars to make up or break up trains.
  • Record departure and arrival times, messages, tickets and revenue collected, and passenger accommodations and destinations.
  • Direct and instruct workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Supervise workers in the inspection and maintenance of mechanical equipment to ensure efficient and safe train operation.
  • Observe yard traffic to determine tracks available to accommodate inbound and outbound traffic.

Skills Needed to be a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

Below is a list of the skills most Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters say are important on the job.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Coordination: Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.

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

Time Management: Managing one’s own time and the time of others.

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.

  • Car Spotter
  • Conductor
  • Passenger Conductor
  • Agent
  • Yard Manager

Job Outlook for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

There were about 41,800 jobs for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster in 2016 (in the United States). There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster. There will be an estimated 3,700 positions for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster per year.

Forecasted Number of Jobs for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters in U.S.

The states with the most job growth for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster are South Carolina, Texas, and Nebraska. Watch out if you plan on working in Alaska, Louisiana, or Oregon. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What is the Average Salary of a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

The typical yearly salary for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters is somewhere between $44,690 and $95,330.

Salary Ranges for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters who work in Maryland, California, or Wyoming, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $61,850
Arizona $56,130
Arkansas $61,660
California $75,170
District of Columbia $66,770
Florida $62,260
Georgia $59,700
Idaho $61,060
Illinois $68,410
Indiana $62,370
Kansas $65,260
Kentucky $52,230
Maine $62,130
Maryland $77,790
Massachusetts $73,950
Michigan $62,460
Minnesota $69,500
Missouri $66,910
Montana $63,050
Nebraska $66,910
Nevada $67,010
New Hampshire $40,690
New Jersey $70,500
New Mexico $68,350
New York $66,560
North Carolina $56,380
Ohio $66,830
Oklahoma $42,680
Oregon $70,030
Pennsylvania $66,110
South Carolina $60,540
South Dakota $66,880
Tennessee $68,900
Texas $69,560
Utah $59,440
Virginia $68,130
Washington $67,560
West Virginia $62,080
Wisconsin $67,840
Wyoming $72,660

What Tools & Technology do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Office
  • Inventory tracking software

How to Become a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

What education is needed to be a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster?

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Degree Level

How many years of work experience do I need?

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Work Experience

Where Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Work

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Sectors

The table below shows the approximate number of Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters employed by various industries.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Industries


Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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