Railroad Conductors & Yardmasters
Also called: Conductor, Freight Conductor, Railroad Conductor, Yardmaster
In the Army: Cavalry Scout; Wheeled Vehicle Repairer
Produced by CareerOneStop
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Commuter trains gliding between stations… freight trains chugging across the heartland…. Every kind of train needs a steady, experienced locomotive engineer at the controls, and railroad conductors and yardmasters to keep track of passengers and cargo. Locomotive engineers drive freight or passenger trains between stations. They alter their methods and speed based on the type of freight they carry, weather conditions, and the quality of the rails themselves. These engineers monitor speed, air pressure, battery use, and other instruments to ensure that the locomotive runs smoothly. Keeping in contact with dispatchers over the radio helps them stay informed of delays and schedule changes. Railroad conductors help travelers onto the train, take tickets, make announcements, and stand by while the train is in the station. It’s their job to make sure people are safely aboard before signaling to the engineer to proceed. Conductors also coordinate the activities of the train’s crew, and on freight trains, if a yardmaster is not available, they oversee loading and unloading of cargo. Yardmasters stay at the station to oversee the activities of workers in the rail yard; moving cars for the right configuration of a train, loading freight, and making sure all equipment is safe. Especially before they gain seniority, these railroad workers work nights, weekends, and holidays. Most jobs require a high school diploma, along with several months of simulations and on-the-job training to get “on track” for a career on the rails.
What they do:Coordinate activities of switch-engine crew within railroad yard, industrial plant, or similar location. Conductors coordinate activities of train crew on passenger or freight trains. Yardmasters review train schedules and switching orders and coordinate activities of workers engaged in railroad traffic operations, such as the makeup or breakup of trains and yard switching.
On the job, you would:
- Signal engineers to begin train runs, stop trains, or change speed, using telecommunications equipment or hand signals.
- Confer with engineers regarding train routes, timetables, and cargoes, and to discuss alternative routes when there are rail defects or obstructions.
- Receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices.
Safety and Government
Arts and Humanities
Education and Training
People and Technology Systems
Ideas and Logic
Hearing and Speech
People interested in this work like activities that include leading, making decisions, and business.
They do well at jobs that need:
You might use software like this on the job:
Industrial control software
Materials requirements planning logistics and supply chain software
Inventory management software
See more details at O*NET OnLine about railroad conductors and yardmasters.