Everything You Need to Know About Railroad Jobs

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019, there were about 77,700 railroad jobs.

If you’ve always loved trains and have always wanted to be working on the railroad, there are plenty of different career paths that you could choose from.

But how do you know which one will be right for you? Make sure you keep reading to learn about what each job will require!

Locomotive Engineer

A locomotive engineer is the one who is actually in charge of driving the passenger or freight trains to their destination. Normally these engineers won’t drive subway trains, but they’ll drive commuter or long-distance trains. 

Most of the trains are diesel-electric engines, so the trains will be powered by electricity or a battery.

However, the engineer will have to know how to operate it and what to do in case there is an emergency. They also need to be aware of what kind of freight they are required to be driving. 

They need to know this because if they’re driving with hazardous material through a mountain in a snowstorm, they’ll have to drive a lot more carefully. 

They’re also in charge of knowing how to use all of the controls, like the airbrakes and throttles. They’ll have to use the radios to communicate with other dispatchers to talk about changes in the schedule or the delays. 

While they’re driving, they’ll have to keep an eye on the speed, make sure the air pressure is good, and monitor how much battery life is left. 

Fuel Master

Railroad engineers are trained on how to drive smartly to use less fuel. 

This fuel master learns how to use smart driving techniques to consume less fuel which contributes to less air pollution. For example, they’ll learn how to drive for expected terrain and learn how to reduce braking to save fuel. 

Track Laborer

A track laborer normally finds a job with either freight or a passenger railroad company. They will perform repairs, maintenance, and inspections on the railroad tracks. However, they’ll also inspect a lot of the training equipment as well.

This job is very physically demanding, so you’ll need a lot of endurance and strength to make it in this job. 

While this is an entry-level job, you will likely work outside and have a large area of land to cover and be in charge of. If you have welding experience, you may be more desirable as a candidate.

However, in this job, you could get injured easily. If you suffer from a workplace injury, make sure you contact a railroad injury lawyer.

Conductor

A conductor can travel on either a passenger or a freight train. They will be the manager of the train, coordinating the different activities from all of the crew members on the train.

If they’re working on a passenger train, they make sure that their passengers always know what’s going on and that they’re comfortable and safe during their travels. 

In addition, they’ll also do things like taking payments from passengers, check their tickets, and let them know if there are any issues with the train.

On a freight train, they will oversee and manage the loading and unloading of whatever cargo that train is carrying.

Railroad Police Officer

A railroad police officer is a job that dates back to 1849. They were originally created to help keep order in small railroad towns. If anyone lost any luggage or freight, they were on the job.

Train robberies aren’t as common today, but railroad police officers still exist! Today, they normally will investigate crimes of vandalism against the train stations, and they’ll also patrol the depots, yards, and railroad property. 

They use really sophisticated technology to help keep these properties protected. For example, they may use thermal imagers, K-9 teams, and night vision. 

Signal Maintainer

A signal maintainer will ensure that the electrical parts of the railway systems work for the right signaling. If they malfunction, this could cause terrible train crashes. 

Signal maintainers normally work for either freight or passenger railroad companies or even local transit authorities. However, some of them also work with subway systems. 

Simulation Developer

For those who love video games and trains, a simulation developer might be the perfect job for you. These people will develop all kinds of training technology to help simulate life on a train. This way, companies can easily train new employees in real-life situations without having to put them on an actual train. 

While this is a newer technology, there are many virtual training programs coming out that will help to teach employees things like: 

  • Operating switches
  • Sorting cars
  • Manuevering locomotives 

As a simulator developer, you will be in charge of developing this virtual training!

Yardmaster

A yardmaster does work that is similar to what a conductor does, but they don’t actually travel on the trains.

Instead, they manage the people who work in the rail yard. They’ll tell engineers when to move cars, how to load freight, or how to plan a configuration for the train. 

They are also in charge of making sure the correct material is loaded safely onto the train before it leaves for its trip. 

Learn More About Railroad Jobs

These are only a few things to know about railroad jobs, but there are many more opportunities to consider while you’re looking!

We know that getting a new job can be stressful and overwhelming, but we’re here to help you out.

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