CareerGPS

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators
Summary Occupational Forecast Data for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators
Employment Employment Change Average Annual Job Openings Wage & Training Levels
2018 2023 Numerical Percent New Jobs Replacement Jobs Total Median Hourly Median Annual Training Levels
74 75 1 1.33% 0 7 7 $34.27 $71,278 High school diploma or equivalent
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.
Staffing Pattern Data Forecast Data Source: EMSI (2nd Quarter 2018)

Occupation Details

The information in this section represents occupational characteristics included in O*NET which defines key features of an occupation as a standardized, measurable set of variables called "descriptors". These distinguishing characteristics of an occupation are described in greater detail in the O*NET Content Model. All items are listed in descending order of importance.

  • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
  • Observe signals from other crewmembers so that work activities can be coordinated.
  • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
  • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.
  • Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
  • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
  • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops in order to warn oncoming trains.
  • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.

Knowledge

75%
Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
57%
Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
56%
Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
51%
Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

Skills

60%
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.
56%
Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
56%
Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
56%
Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
53%
Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
53%
Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
50%
Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
50%
Judgment and Decision Making - Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
50%
Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.

Abilities

69%
Far Vision - The ability to see details at a distance.
60%
Multilimb Coordination - The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
60%
Control Precision - The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
60%
Near Vision - The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
60%
Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
60%
Auditory Attention - The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
56%
Trunk Strength - The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without 'giving out' or fatiguing.
56%
Reaction Time - The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
56%
Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
56%
Gross Body Coordination - The ability to coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.
56%
Perceptual Speed - The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes compa
53%
Selective Attention - The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
53%
Depth Perception - The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
53%
Gross Body Equilibrium - The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
53%
Extent Flexibility - The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
53%
Static Strength - The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
53%
Speech Recognition - The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
53%
Visualization - The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
53%
Finger Dexterity - The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
53%
Manual Dexterity - The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
53%
Arm-Hand Steadiness - The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
53%
Visual Color Discrimination - The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
50%
Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
50%
Hearing Sensitivity - The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
50%
Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
50%
Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
50%
Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
50%
Information Ordering - The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
50%
Flexibility of Closure - The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
50%
Speech Clarity - The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.

Work Activities

86%
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material - Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
84%
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events - Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
83%
Performing General Physical Activities - Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials.
79%
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings - Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
78%
Getting Information - Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
73%
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards - Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
69%
Documenting/Recording Information - Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
69%
Handling and Moving Objects - Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
67%
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates - Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
63%
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge - Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
60%
Controlling Machines and Processes - Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
60%
Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information - Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
59%
Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People - Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
57%
Making Decisions and Solving Problems - Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
56%
Training and Teaching Others - Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
55%
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment - Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
54%
Processing Information - Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
54%
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships - Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
54%
Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others - Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
52%
Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work - Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
51%
Coaching and Developing Others - Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
Title Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Overall Experience Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.
Job Training Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, physical therapist aides, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
Education These occupations usually require a high school diploma.

Interests

Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outsi
Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Work Styles

Dependability - Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Attention to Detail - Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Self Control - Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance - Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.

Work Values

Support - Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.