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Details for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters


Conductors coordinate activities of train crew on passenger or freight train. Coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within yard of railroad, industrial plant, or similar location. Yardmasters coordinate activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains, yard switching, and review train schedules and switching orders.


  • Signal engineers to begin train runs, stop trains, or change speed, using telecommunications equipment or hand signals.
  • Receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices.
  • Direct and instruct workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Direct engineers to move cars to fit planned train configurations, combining or separating cars to make up or break up trains.
  • Receive instructions from dispatchers regarding trains' routes, timetables, and cargoes.
  • Review schedules, switching orders, way bills, and shipping records to obtain cargo loading and unloading information and to plan work.
  • Confer with engineers regarding train routes, timetables, and cargoes, and to discuss alternative routes when there are rail defects or obstructions.
  • Arrange for the removal of defective cars from trains at stations or stops.
  • Inspect each car periodically during runs.
  • Observe yard traffic to determine tracks available to accommodate inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Document and prepare reports of accidents, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • Confirm routes and destination information for freight cars.
  • Supervise and coordinate crew activities to transport freight and passengers and to provide boarding, porter, maid, and meal services to passengers.
  • Supervise workers in the inspection and maintenance of mechanical equipment in order to ensure efficient and safe train operation.
  • Record departure and arrival times, messages, tickets and revenue collected, and passenger accommodations and destinations.
  • Inspect freight cars for compliance with sealing procedures, and record car numbers and seal numbers.
  • Collect tickets, fares, or passes from passengers.
  • Verify accuracy of timekeeping instruments with engineers to ensure trains depart on time.
  • Instruct workers to regulate air-conditioning, lighting, and heating in passenger cars in order to ensure passengers' comfort.


  • 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.
  • Enterprising - Enterprising occupations frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. These occupations can involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • 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.

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.


  • Mechanical - Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • 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.


  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Coordination - Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Time Management - Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Management of Personnel Resources - Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

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