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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

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What Do Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Do?

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator 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.

Life As a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator: What Do They Do?

  • Watch for and relay traffic signals to start and stop cars during shunting.
  • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.
  • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
  • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
  • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
  • Monitor oil, air, and steam pressure gauges, and make sure water levels are adequate.

Skills Needed to be a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

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.

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.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

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

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Other Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Job Titles

  • Switch Coupler
  • Freight Conductor
  • Gang Rider
  • Yard Brakeman
  • Railcar Switchman

Job Demand 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 Operator. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator. The BLS estimates 1,700 yearly job openings in this field.

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The states with the most job growth for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator are Nebraska, Texas, and Washington. Watch out if you plan on working in Louisiana, Tennessee, or Wisconsin. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator Average Salary

The average yearly salary of a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator ranges between $34,610 and $85,590.

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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators who work in South Carolina, Massachusetts, or Minnesota, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $48,250
Arkansas $45,000
Florida $39,450
Georgia $54,570
Illinois $63,030
Indiana $51,600
Iowa $49,980
Kansas $63,980
Kentucky $49,850
Louisiana $54,650
Maryland $60,100
Massachusetts $70,560
Michigan $60,940
Minnesota $67,900
Missouri $63,610
Montana $56,520
Nebraska $61,200
New Jersey $57,610
New York $72,170
North Carolina $57,250
Ohio $58,440
Oklahoma $61,580
Oregon $65,970
Pennsylvania $56,080
South Carolina $72,930
Texas $57,890
Utah $49,270
Virginia $46,540
Washington $66,160
West Virginia $49,550
Wisconsin $65,780
Wyoming $58,390

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
  • Route mapping software
  • Time tracking software
  • Electronic train management systems ETMS

How to Become a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator

Are there Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators education requirements?

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How many years of work experience do I need?

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Who Employs Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators?

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Below are examples of industries where Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators work:

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Similar Careers

Those thinking about becoming a Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operator might also be interested in the following careers:

References:

Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

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