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Railroad Brake, Signal, & Switch Operators

Also called: Brakeman, Railroad Switchman, Terminal Carman, Trainman

Where in the Army? In the Army: Railway Operations Crewmember (RC)

What they do:
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.
On the job, you would:
  • 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 crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.


  • movement of people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road
  • customer service
Safety and Government
  • public safety and security
Engineering and Technology
  • mechanical


Basic Skills
  • listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions
  • keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements
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
  • use your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down
Hand and Finger Use
  • hold or move items with your hands
  • keep your arm or hand steady
  • pay attention to something without being distracted
  • listen and understand what people say


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


You might use software like this on the job:

Expert system software
  • Electronic train management systems ETMS
Route navigation software
  • Route mapping software
Time accounting software
  • Time tracking software


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

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Job Outlook

Below Average Outlook
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See more details at O*NET OnLine about railroad brake, signal, and switch operators.