Discover your career path

Railroad Worker

Help keep a railroad station up and running.

What does a Railroad Worker 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.