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Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster

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What Do Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Do?

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

  • Observe yard traffic to determine tracks available to accommodate inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Operate controls to activate track switches and traffic signals.
  • Instruct workers to set warning signals in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops.
  • 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.
  • Confer with engineers regarding train routes, timetables, and cargoes, and to discuss alternative routes when there are rail defects or obstructions.
  • Confirm routes and destination information for freight cars.

Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Required 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.

  • Switch Operators Supervisor
  • Conductor and Engineer
  • Transportation Supervisor
  • Centralized Traffic Control Operator (CTC Operator)
  • Car Chaser

Job Opportunities for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 41,800 jobs in the United States for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster. There will be an estimated 3,700 positions for Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster per 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.

How Much Does a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster Make?

The typical yearly salary for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters is somewhere between $44,690 and $95,330.


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

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters 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?

Education needed to be a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster:


How Long Does it Take to Become a Railroad Conductor or Yardmaster?


Where Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Work


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.



Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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