CareerShip Home
About CareerShip
Resources
Contact Us
Mapping Your Future
  back
Visit the Featured Career Match My Career Interests
Review Careers by Clusters Career Search

Details for Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators


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.

Tasks

  • Watch for and relay traffic signals to start and stop cars during shunting.
  • Open and close chute gates to load and unload cars.
  • Refuel and lubricate engines.
  • Attach cables to cars being hoisted by cables or chains in mines, quarries, or industrial plants.
  • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
  • Monitor oil, air, and steam pressure gauges, and make sure water levels are adequate.
  • Open and close ventilation doors.
  • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
  • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
  • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops in order to warn oncoming trains.
  • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
  • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.
  • Collect tickets, fares, and passes from passengers.
  • Place passengers' baggage in racks above seats on trains.
  • Provide passengers with assistance entering and exiting trains.
  • Repair and install rails and ties.
  • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
  • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.
  • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
  • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
  • Observe signals from other crewmembers so that work activities can be coordinated.
  • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
  • 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.
  • Ride atop cars that have been shunted, and turn handwheels to control speeds or stop cars at specified positions.
  • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.

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 outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Knowledge

  • 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.
  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

Skills

Related Careers

  • Crane and Tower Operators
  • Hoist and Winch Operators
  • Industrial Truck and Tractor Operators
  • Transportation Vehicle, Equipment and Systems Inspectors, Except Aviation
  • Truck Drivers, Light or Delivery Services
Wages for this career
America's Career InfoNet