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Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters
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Description: what do 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.
Also known as:
Conductor, Freight Conductor, Railroad Conductor, Train Master, Trainman, Yardmaster

    What does this information tell me?

    This description is a quick overview of what workers in this career might do.

    "Also known as" shows other common names for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from an O*NET database. Learn more on the Help page.

Career video
    Transcript: 00:00:06.040 --> 00:00:07.530 experienced locomotive engineer at the controls, 00:00:14.620 --> 00:00:16.020 or passenger trains between stations. 00:00:21.370 --> 00:00:23.240 of the rails themselves. 00:00:28.810 --> 00:00:31.370 Keeping in contact with dispatchers 00:00:37.320 --> 00:00:38.370 onto the train, take tickets, 00:00:43.330 --> 00:00:45.670 before signaling to the engineer to proceed. 00:00:51.890 --> 00:00:53.610 they oversee loading and unloading of cargo. 00:01:00.260 --> 00:01:02.829 loading freight, and making sure 00:01:07.380 --> 00:01:08.660 nights, weekends, and holidays. 00:01:13.420 --> 00:01:15.420 to get “on track” for a career on the rails.
View transcript
Outlook: will there be jobs?
Image. Employment outlook for this occupation
New job opportunities are less likely in the future.


    What does this information tell me?

    Outlook information can tell you whether a career is expected to be in demand in the future—that is, whether there are likely to be job openings if you choose this career. Please note that this does not account for the impacts of the current pandemic. Many occupations are likely to have very different outlooks due to the rapidly changing economy. When new outlook information is developed, it will be reflected here.

    Careers can have one of three outlooks:

    • A Bright outlook means new job opportunities are very likely in the future
    • An Average outlook means that a small number of new job opportunities are likely in the future (less than an 8 percent increase)
    • A Below Average outlook means new job opportunities are less likely in the future

    You can also view local job listings in this field by clicking "Find job openings". This can help you see if local businesses are hiring—another way of looking at demand.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET Bright Outlook occupations and My Next Move career outlook designations (based on Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections 2020-30). Note this information is only available at a national level, so even if you selected a state, you’ll see this information for the whole country.

Projected employment
Kansas
970
2018 Employment
890
2028 Employment
-8%
Percent change
80
Annual projected job openings
United States
32,900
2020 Employment
34,700
2030 Employment
6%
Percent change
3,100
Annual projected job openings

    What does this information tell me?

    Projected employment shows how much employment is expected to grow in this occupation over a 10-year period. This can help you decide if this career is a good choice for future job opportunities. You can look at projected employment in your state, or in other states where you might consider living.

    You can see the total number of people employed in this occupation in 2018 (for states) or 2020 (for the United States), the number expected to be employed in 2028 (for states) or 2030 (for the United States), and rate of growth over those years.

    The projections are based on assumptions of unemployment rates and labor productivity growth rates.  While the projected numbers may not be exact, they are helpful to compare one career to another, or one location to another.

    What is the source of this information?

    State-level data come from Projections Central and State Labor Market Information offices, 2018-28.

    National-level data come from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, 2020-30.

Typical wages

Annual wages for Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters in Kansas
This graph displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
This chart displays wage data.  Find details by selecting the table view.
LocationKansasUnited States
10%$38,480$43,430
25%$48,330$54,910
Median$60,070$64,030
75%$68,500$76,310
90%$80,850$90,520


    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you a range of how much most workers in this occupation earn per hour, in the location that you selected.

    You can select from three views of this data:

    • The Graph shows you wages at the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th and 90th percentiles. Note that the lowest (10th %ile) wage shown is not necessarily a "starting wage." Instead it means that 10 percent of all workers in this career earn less that this amount, and 90 percent earn more. However, you can assume that you might earn close to the 10th or 25th %ile wages when you start out in most careers.
    • Select "Chart" to see a visual comparison between national wages and wages in the location you selected.
    • Select "Table" to see more wage data the national and local level.

    Please note that wage data are not available at the city or ZIP code level. If you selected a city or ZIP code, you will see wage data for the regional area.

    You can learn more about wages for this and other occupations by clicking “See more wages” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    The wage information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics Program, May 2020 survey. For more detailed state wage data, please find the link to your state's wage data program in the Other Resources box.

Education and experience: to get started
People starting in this career usually have:
  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • No work experience
  • 1 to 12 months on-the-job training

Programs that can prepare you:
Typical education
How much education do most people in this career have?
Chart. Percent of workers in this field by education level attained

    What does this information tell me?

    This chart shows you the range of education levels that people who currently work in this field have. You can use this to see if you fit in this range. Note that this includes ALL people who work in this field and not just those getting started.

    Interested in getting qualified for this career? You can search for programs that lead to the education needed, in your local area, by clicking “Find local training” above.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics Employment Projections, Educational attainment for workers 25 years and older by detailed occupation, 2018-19.

Certifications: show your skills
Let employers know you have the skills to do well at this job.
Earning a certification can help you:
  • Get a job
  • Get a promotion

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find certifications" you'll see a list of national certifications that are related to this career. From there, you can learn how to achieve one of these certifications to help you enter or get ahead in this field.

    What is the source of this information?

    This collection of occupational certifications is collected and regularly updated by CareerOneStop. Learn more at Certification Finder Help.

Licenses: do you need one?
Some states require an occupational license to work in this career.

    What does this information tell me?

    When you click "Find license details in your state" you'll see the license name and contact information for the agency in your state that oversees licensing for this field. If you have not selected a location, you'll see a list of all state licenses for this occupation.

    What is the source of this information?

    Information on licensed occupations is gathered in each state by Labor Market Information units under a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. Learn more at License Finder Help.

Apprenticeships: learn on the job
Apprenticeships combine paid on-the-job-training with classroom lessons.

Activities: what you might do in a day
  • Signal others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Direct emergency management activities.
  • Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments.
  • Direct passenger or freight transport activities.
  • Control equipment that regulates vehicle traffic.
  • Record operational details of travel.
  • Monitor vehicle movement or location.
  • Arrange maintenance activities.
  • Inspect locomotives or other railroad equipment.
  • Direct maintenance or repair activities.
  • Review work orders or schedules to determine operations or procedures.
  • Verify information or specifications.
  • Prepare accident or incident reports.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Collect fares or payment from customers.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical work activities that people in this career might do on the job. You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More activities” to see more detailed examples of activities for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these activities to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET’s Detailed Work Activities.

Knowledge
People in this career often know a lot about:
  • 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.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of general knowledge areas that are most commonly required for jobs in the career. Knowledge is typically gained through education and related experience.

    This list can help you learn if you are prepared for a job in this career. It can also help you decide on education or training programs that could help you prepare for the career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Knowledge descriptors.

Skills
People in this career often have these skills:
  • Monitoring - Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.
  • Speaking - Talking to others.
  • Coordination - Changing what is done based on other people's actions.
  • Critical Thinking - Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.
  • Time Management - Managing your time and the time of other people.
  • Active Listening - Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.
  • Judgment and Decision Making - Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.
  • Operations Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list the work-related skills most commonly required for jobs in the career.

    This list can help you understand how well your current skills fit this career. It can also help you plan your education or professional development.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Skills descriptors.

Abilities
People in this career often have talent in:
  • Oral Expression - Communicating by speaking.
  • Problem Sensitivity - Noticing when problems happen.
  • Oral Comprehension - Listening and understanding what people say.
  • Far Vision - Seeing details that are far away.
  • Speech Recognition - Recognizing spoken words.
  • Speech Clarity - Speaking clearly.
  • Near Vision - Seeing details up close.
  • Information Ordering - Ordering or arranging things.
  • Inductive Reasoning - Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.
  • Deductive Reasoning - Using rules to solve problems.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of a list of personal qualities that might influence work and are most commonly required for success in this career.

    This list can help you understand if your natural strengths and abilities are a good fit for this career.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Abilities descriptors.

Interests
  • Conventional - Occupations related to Conventional interests frequently involve following set procedures and routines. They include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
  • Enterprising - Occupations with Enterprising interests frequently involve starting up and carrying out projects. Many involve leading people and making many decisions. Sometimes they require risk taking and often deal with business.
  • Realistic - Occupations with Realistic interests frequently involve practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of work environment-preferences that are most commonly associated with the career. It can help you understand if your natural interests are a good fit for this career.

    Click "Take an interest assessment" for a quick 30-question assessment that can help you understand your interests and see careers that might be good matches for them.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from the O*NET Resource Center. Learn more about O*NET's Interest descriptors.

Typical tasks
  • 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.
  • Instruct workers to set warning signals in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops.
  • Receive information regarding train or rail problems from dispatchers or from electronic monitoring devices.
  • Receive instructions from dispatchers regarding trains' routes, timetables, and cargoes.
  • Direct and instruct workers engaged in yard activities, such as switching tracks, coupling and uncoupling cars, and routing inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Operate controls to activate track switches and traffic signals.
  • 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.
  • Observe yard traffic to determine tracks available to accommodate inbound and outbound traffic.
  • Arrange for the removal of defective cars from trains at stations or stops.
  • Direct engineers to move cars to fit planned train configurations, combining or separating cars to make up or break up trains.
  • Inspect each car periodically during runs.
  • Supervise workers in the inspection and maintenance of mechanical equipment to ensure efficient and safe train operation.
  • Review schedules, switching orders, way bills, and shipping records to obtain cargo loading and unloading information and to plan work.
  • 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.
  • Verify accuracy of timekeeping instruments with engineers to ensure trains depart on time.
  • Document and prepare reports of accidents, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • 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.
  • Instruct workers to regulate air conditioning, lighting, and heating in passenger cars to ensure passengers' comfort.

    What does this information tell me?

    This is a list of typical tasks that people in this career might do on the job.  You can use this list to get an idea of whether this career might be a good fit for you.

    Click on “More tasks” to see more detailed examples for this career.

    You can also use this list to help you prepare for a job interview. Or, if you’ve already held a job like this, you can copy these tasks to use on your resume.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information comes from O*NET OnLine's Occupation Information. They are O*NET‘s Tasks.

    What does this information tell me?

    These are additional online resources related to this career. You may find different or more detailed information at these sources.

    What is the source of this information?

    This information is collected and maintained by CareerOneStop.