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Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

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Life As a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Definition 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.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Responsibilities

  • Keep records of the contents and destination of each train car, and make sure that cars are added or removed at proper points on routes.
  • Verify accuracy of timekeeping instruments with engineers to ensure trains depart on time.
  • Direct and instruct workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Inspect freight cars for compliance with sealing procedures and record car numbers and seal numbers.
  • Direct engineers to move cars to fit planned train configurations, combining or separating cars to make up or break up trains.
  • Arrange for the removal of defective cars from trains at stations or stops.

What a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Should Know

When polled, Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters say the following skills are most frequently used in their jobs:

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

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

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.

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.

  • Ticket Collector
  • Outbound Supervisor
  • Switch Operators Supervisor
  • Railroad Conductor
  • Conductor

What Kind of Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Job Opportunities Are There?

In the United States, there were 41,800 jobs for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters in 2016.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster jobs are decreasing by a rate of -2.1%. This means the total job opportunities are shrinking. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a loss of -900 jobs for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters by 2026. The BLS estimates 3,700 yearly job openings in this field per year.

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

The states with the most job growth for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters are Texas, Illinois, and Nebraska.

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

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Salary

Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Make between $44,690 and $95,330 a year. The median salary is $62,930.

Salary Ranges for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

How much do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters make in each U.S. state?

Annual Mean Salary by State
State Annual Mean Salary









New Jersey












New Mexico














South Dakota




District of Columbia


New York
















West Virginia








South Carolina






North Carolina








New Hampshire


Tools & Technologies Used by Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters:

  • Microsoft Office

Becoming a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

Individuals working as Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters have obtained the following education levels:

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Degree Level

What work experience do I need to become a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster?

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Work Experience

Where do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Work?

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Sectors


Bureau of Labor Statistics

College Factual

O*NET Online

Image Credit: Via Wikimedia Commons

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