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Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, & Hostlers

Also called: Conductor, Engineer, Railcar Switcher, Railroad Engineer

Where in the military? In the military: see titles from the Army or Marine Corps.

What they do:
Drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.
On the job, you would:
  • Confer with conductors and other workers via radiotelephones or computers to exchange switching information.
  • Signal crew members for movement of engines or trains, using lanterns, hand signals, radios, or telephones.
  • Observe and respond to wayside and cab signals, including color light signals, position signals, torpedoes, flags, and hot box detectors.


  • movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
Safety and Government
  • public safety and security
Arts and Humanities
  • English language
  • telecommunications


Basic Skills
  • keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
  • listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
Problem Solving
  • noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it


Controlled Movement
  • quickly change the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat
  • change when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving
  • listen and understand what people say
  • communicate by speaking
Hand and Finger Use
  • keep your arm or hand steady
  • hold or move items with your hands
Hearing and Speech
  • recognize spoken words


People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.
They do well at jobs that need:
  • Attention to Detail
  • Dependability
  • Self Control
  • Integrity
  • Cooperation
  • Independence


You might use software like this on the job:

Facilities management software
  • Railcar inspection management software
Internet browser software
  • Web browser software
Data base user interface and query software
  • Railyard management software RMS


Education: (rated 2 of 5)
high school diploma/GED or
some college
usually needed

Get started on your career:

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Job Outlook

Below Average Outlook
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.
per year, on average
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See more details at O*NET OnLine about rail yard engineers, dinkey operators, and hostlers.