Car Retarder Operator

Control track switches and car-retarder systems from elevated tower.
picture of Car Retarder Operator

Quick Stats


Salary Range
$30,000 – $66,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor


What do Car Retarder Operators do?

Controls track switches and car-retarder system from elevated tower to route and regulate speed of freight cars entering railroad classification yard and couple them to make up trains: Reads switching orders to ascertain routing of cars. Ascertains from YARD ENGINEER number of car to be shunted over hump into classification yard and compares number with switching orders to determine track to which car should be routed. Observes lights on panelboard that indicate if track switches are open or closed. Notifies YARD ENGINEER when to shunt car and presses button on panelboard that throws track switch to route car onto designated track. Observes car as it coasts down decline of hump and presses button on panelboard that activates retarder to reduce speed of car as it reaches end of track or car to which it is to be coupled.


Should I be a Car Retarder Operator?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.
  • Outside the Box Thinker: Your creative brainpower gets a workout as you come up with innovative ideas.
  • Independent: You enjoy flying solo and doing things your own way.

  • Also known as: Ballast Cleaning Operator, Ballast Regulator Operator, Laborer, Car Barn, Power Ballast Machine Operator See More

    How to become a Car Retarder Operator

    Car Retarder Operators generally graduate from high school and get on-the-job training. Think about earning a Certificate or Associate’s degree to increase your chances of finding a good job. Check out these schools offering Car Retarder Operator-related education!
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