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Railroad Technician: Duties, Outlook and Salary

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a railroad technician. Get a quick view of the schooling or training requirements as well as the job duties, employment outlook and salary statistics to find out if this is the career for you.

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Railroad technicians are not necessarily required to have postsecondary experience to work. However, vocational schools do offer programs that can help a railroad technician as they ensure the safety and functionality of railroad systems.

Essential Information

Railroad technicians perform a variety of tasks related to railroad evaluation and maintenance. They generally need an interest in mechanics and problem solving, and they might need to pursue postsecondary training.

Required Education A high school diploma and on-the-job training or postsecondary education in heavy equipment mechanics or diesel technology
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 3% (for rail car repairers)
Median Annual Salary (May 2015)* $55,570 (for rail car repairers)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Duties

Railroad technicians ensure the quality and safety of crossing signal systems, tracks, bridges and railbeds. Tasks might include removing debris and overgrown brush surrounding a railroad site. These technicians might operate heavy construction equipment and locomotives. They also use mechanical tools and diagnostic computers to evaluate more modern locomotive equipment.

Other duties might include assessing and fixing rail car damage. Rail car-related tasks include checking transmissions, hydraulic components and electrical systems, as well as performing general maintenance checks to ensure both safety and high performance. Through education and work experience, railroad technicians might specialize in one area of railroad upkeep, such as electrical maintenance, mechanical maintenance or signal systems operation.

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Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of employed rail car repairers was projected to increase by 3% from 2014-2024 (www.bls.gov). The BLS notes that the expansion of railways and continued shipping needs will support the demand for railroad technicians and related professions. Most job vacancies in the foreseeable future could arise from workers retiring or switching to other professions. In general, individuals who complete postsecondary training programs could find work opportunities more easily than those without an educational background.

Salary

The BLS reported that the average salary for rail car repairers was $54,130 per year in May 2015. The rail transportation industry was one of the highest-paying for these repairers at that time, offering an average yearly salary of $57,620. Virginia, Maryland and Illinois were the top-paying states for these workers in 2015, paying rail car repairers average salaries of $64,450, $64,320 and $62,480, respectively.

Railroad technicians can be responsible for maintaining tracks and railways or working on rail cars. They may specialize themselves in one specific aspect of railroad work, such as mechanical maintenance. A training program related to the job duties of a railroad technician can provide these technicians with needed experience as well as a boost in employment prospects.

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