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Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

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What You Need to Know About Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

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

  • Receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices.
  • Signal engineers to begin train runs, stop trains, or change speed, using telecommunications equipment or hand signals.
  • Inspect freight cars for compliance with sealing procedures and record car numbers and seal numbers.
  • Confirm routes and destination information for freight cars.
  • Supervise workers in the inspection and maintenance of mechanical equipment to ensure efficient and safe train operation.
  • Instruct workers to set warning signals in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Skills

These are the skills Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters say are the most useful in their careers:

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.

Other Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Job Titles

  • Traffic Control Operator
  • Yardmaster
  • Motor Boss
  • Yard Supervisor
  • Transportation Supervisor

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

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. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 3,700 job openings in this field each year.


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.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Salary

The salary for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters ranges between about $44,690 and $95,330 a year.


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

How much do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters make 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 do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Use?

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

  • Microsoft Office
  • Inventory tracking software

How do I Become a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster?

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


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Work?


Below are examples of industries where Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters work:



Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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