The median annual wage for railroad workers was $55,180 in May 2015.
The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,580, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $78,340.
Median annual wages for railroad workers in May 2015 were as follows:
Railroad conductors and yardmasters
Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators
Rail yard engineers, dinkey operators, and hostlers
Trains are scheduled to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, meaning that many railroad workers sometimes work nights, weekends, and holidays. Most rail employees work full time. Federal regulations require a minimum number of rest hours for train operators.
Locomotive engineers and conductors whose trains travel long routes can be away from home for long periods of time. Those who work on passenger trains with short routes generally have a more predictable schedule. Workers on some freight trains have irregular schedules.
For engineers, seniority (the number of years on the job) usually dictates who receives the most desired shifts. Some engineers, called extra board, are hired on a temporary basis and get an assignment only when a railroad needs an extra or substitute worker on a certain route.
Most railroad workers belonged to a union in 2014.
Median annual wages, May 2015
Total, all occupations
Transportation and material moving occupations
Note: All Occupations includes all occupations in the U.S. Economy. Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment Statistics