Railroad Worker

Help keep a railroad station up and running.
picture of Railroad Worker

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$30,000 – $66,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Railroad Workers do?

The term “Railroad Worker” could apply to many things, including workers who install and repair rails; inspect, tend, and operate trains; or assist and interact with passengers in any way. The rail industry is one of the last remaining “lifetime employment” industries. A successful career in rail could take you from Railroad Worker to Conductor, Engineer, or all the way to Railroad Supervisor or any other leadership position.

Everyone starts at the bottom, though. Most Rail Workers are part of a union as well, which means that you have to work your way up through the ranks and accrue seniority.

Railroad Workers are called upon to be versatile and dynamic. In the course of your mandatory training, you’ll learn most of what your daily activities will call for. In the field, however, things can change rapidly. You need to constantly have your head on a swivel.

Watching for traffic and signal patterns, understanding travel and shipping orders, and recognizing early symptoms of mechanical problems are all vital to ensuring everyone’s safety and keeping the trains running efficiently. Be prepared to work outdoors, inside trains, and in cramped mechanical access spaces. Good adherence to safety procedures will protect you from trains, heavy cargo, and machinery injury.

Like most transportation workers, Railroad Workers start off with a 40-hour workweek. These 40 hours can take a lot of different forms, and time off can be irregular. Overtime is common as you learn the ropes and usually have a pretty long “to do” list.

If you really love the rails and want to make a career for yourself, then you’ll power through. Good communication skills and the ability to follow orders and work as part of a team are also important. They keep people alive and make your work enjoyable.

Should I be a Railroad Worker?

You should have a high school degree or higher and share these traits:
  • 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.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • Also known as: Railroader, Railroad Hand, Rail Walker, Target Worker

    How to become a Railroad Worker

    Railroad Workers 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 Railroad Worker-related education!
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