What do Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Do?
Railroad conductors coordinate the activities of the switch-engine crew within a railroad yard, industrial plant, or similar location. Conductors also coordinate activities of the train crew on passenger or freight trains. Yardmasters review train schedules and switching orders and coordinate the activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains and yard switching.This occupation will show a decline in growth over the next few years, with 1,330 new jobs to be created. Nearly all of these jobs will be in railroad transportation, with local government providing an additional 7% of positions.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Skills and Abilities
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters have knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits. You will have in-depth knowledge of relevant policies and procedures involved in public safety and the protection of people, data and property. You will be familiar with laws, regulations and agency rules. This occupation must be familiar with the principles and methods for curriculum design and instruction for individuals and groups. Some specific abilities Conductors and Yardmasters possess are:
- Monitoring – Monitoring performance of yourself and other individuals to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Speaking – Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Critical Thinking – Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions to problems.
- Active Listening – Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made.
- Judgment and Decision Making – Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management – Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Duties
Your primary duties are to signal engineers for train movements using telecommunications equipment or hand signals. You will confer with engineers regarding train routes, timetables, and cargoes, and discuss alternative routes when there are rail defects or obstructions. You will review schedules and shipping records to obtain cargo loading and unloading information and to plan work. You will regularly receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices. You will supervise and instruct the workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic. You will also supervise crew activities to transport freight and passengers and to provide services to passengers.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Tools and Technology
Conductors and Yardmasters use such tools as adjustable and other specialty wrenches, portable bar code scanners, desktop computers and bridge plates. You will also use industrial control, inventory and logistics software.
Education and Training for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters
Conductors and Yardmasters only need a high school diploma or equivalent, although nearly 35% of workers have some college experience and 11% hold an Associate’s Degree. You will receive moderate term on the job training to learn how to perform your work.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Salary
The median salary for this occupation is just under $55,000 with the top 10% earning over $76,000. Mississippi, Kentucky, and New York pay the highest wages at over $60,000, while Colorado and New Hampshire pay the lowest at under $40,000.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters Jobs by Geography
The states of Arizona, Washington, and Tennessee will have the largest growth for this occupation, with a 12% to 21% increase in the number of jobs. Maine, Ohio, and Arkansas will have marked decline in these positions, with between a 10% and 17% decrease in jobs.