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.
Experience: Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience may be helpful in these occupations, but usually is not needed. For example, a drywall installer might benefit from experience installing drywall, but an inexperienced person could still learn to be an installer with little difficulty.
Education: These occupations usually require a high school diploma and may require some vocational training or job-related course work. In some cases, an associate's or bachelor's degree could be needed.
Training: Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees.
Workers in railroad occupations ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains, while others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.
Nearly all locomotive engineers; conductors and yardmasters; and brake, signal, and switch operators work in the rail transportation industry. Rail yard engineers work in rail transportation and also support activities for rail.
Railroad occupations generally require a high school diploma and several months of on-the-job training.
The median annual wage for all railroad occupations was $52,400 in May 2012.
Employment of railroad occupations is projected to decline 3 percent from 2012 to 2022. Although demand for rail transportation may grow, an increase in productivity may hold back employment growth in rail occupations.