Top 22 Best Paying Jobs In Railroads

The railroad industry is the most promising career that takes you along toward a fulfilling future. As an individual, the industry will let you learn a lot and help you grow professionally. 

You will find several occupations to upkeep the tracks, stations, and rail depots in the railroad sector. Some jobs are associated with the service industry, such as chef, attendant, and representative, and some are transportation-based such as train engineer, Rail track maintainer, and locomotive operator.

Each role requires a different set of responsibilities and skills. Some jobs require extensive knowledge, education, and training, while some would allow you to start with a high school diploma or GED.

Anyone willing to be a part of the railroad industry must know the necessary measures for the safety of passengers and cargo and the fundamentals of traffic control. Individuals professionally sound in maintenance work can opt for track engineer or track inspector roles with high mechanical skills.

You can expect higher pay, job security, diverse training, traveling and growth opportunities, and desirable health and vacation benefits within the railroad industry.

Why Railroad Industry Is A Good Career Path?

The global railroad market is expected to witness significant growth in 2021-2026, growing at a CAGR of 3%. The market is projected to reach USD 253 billion by 2026.

With the recent growth in the railroad sector, Railroad jobs are in great demand. This calls for the trained and hardworking workforce to operate, expand and maintain the railroad network.

Railroad Industry

This tremendous growth is a result of the continuous boom of bulk goods transportation, transportation of cars, coal, and other heavy commodities.

As per the Statista report, with salaries ranging from $50,000 to $150,000 annually, more than 135,000 workers were recruited in the railroad sector in 2020.

If you have discovered your mind and chosen to specialize in this field, then take a closer look at the benefits of this sector and know why this is the right career choice for you.

  • As part of the job, it allows you to free travel to all cities and towns.
  • Along with competitive pay, rail transportation workers are entitled to receive desirable health and vacation benefits.
  • Many positions in this rail industry offer extensive job training, which can give you relevant skills and specialized field knowledge.
  • Many railroad transportation companies have unions representing employees in pay and benefit negotiations. An association can protect employees’ interests and potentially help improve their benefits.

Essential Skills For Railroad Workers

To master the role in the railroad career, many workers need to be proficient in technical skills. Regardless of their position, they need to qualify for some soft skills for the job. Here are a few examples of skills needed in a railroad career.

  • Leadership
  • Mechanical knowledge
  • Hand-eye coordination
  • Attention to detail
  • Quick decision making
  • Customer service
  • Effective communication

 Top Best-Paying Jobs In Railroad Industry

The railroad industry offers numerous career options, each with exciting benefits. There are many different jobs available as per your interest, whether you want to work as a laborer, a technical engineer, or a supervisory position, all of which have excellent earning potential.

  • Digital Signal Processing Engineer
  • Track Inspector
  • Rail Depot Manager
  • Signal Integrity Engineer
  • Locomotive Operator
  • Switch Technician
  • Railroad Engineer
  • Locomotive Electrician
  • Transfer Driver
  • Locomotive Mechanic
  • Train Dispatcher
  • Track Worker
  • Railcar Mechanic
  • Locomotive Engineer
  • Signalman
  • Railroad Track Laborer
  • Railroad Conductor
  • Switchman
  • Subway Operator
  • Switcher
  • Signal Apprentice
  • Signal inspector

1. Digital Signal Processing Engineer

Salary range: $99,000-$147,500 per year

A signal processing engineer is an informational technologist who tests, develops, and implements digital signals to make them more accurate and reliable. 

As a digital signal processing engineer, the responsibilities are to manage, initiate, develop and update digital signals, and create algorithms. 

Qualifications for a signal processing engineer include a bachelor’s degree in computer or electrical engineering and skills in various programming languages, like C++. You can pursue a signal processing engineer career in multiple industries, from security to logistics.

2. Track Inspector

Salary range: $51,000-$107,500 per year

A track inspector analyses railroad tracks to ensure the tracks are safe to use. The responsibilities include keeping detailed records about the condition of railroad tracks and submitting maintenance requests when necessary. 

Other job duties include monitoring signal and crossing equipment operations and preparing reports. The qualifications he needs include certification from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

3. Rail Depot Manager

Salary range: $50,000-$73,000 per year

A depot manager is responsible for ensuring all operational areas are safe and maintaining a high standard of trackside safety. They also ensure that trains are ordered in time to meet requirements.

Further job duties include:

  • Supervising the daily operations of the depot.
  • Monitoring all types of discharge at the site.
  • Ensuring all safety procedures are followed. 

The qualifications for a depot manager include a high school diploma. However, some companies may prefer a bachelor’s degree in management.

4. Signal Integrity Engineer

Salary range: $104,000-$144,500 per year

A signal integrity engineer is responsible for ensuring signals are transmitted clearly between different pieces of equipment. A major work of Signal integrity engineers spends within electronics engineering. He designs circuit boards and finds solutions to problems related to the electrical current delivery in various systems. 

Moreover, he also works to keep current interference-free and provides the highest current quality to a device or piece of equipment.  To advance in this career, he needs many troubleshooting skills.

5. Locomotive Operator

Salary range: $40,000-$114,000 per year

The role of a locomotive operator is to ensure the proper functioning of a railcar facility between stations, operating engines, and switching trains between tracks. Other job responsibilities include providing information about the tracks, adhering to rules and assigned instructions, conducting inspections, loading and unloading trains from paths, and documenting daily reports for each rail vehicle.

6. Switch Technician

Salary range: $73,500-$85,500 per year

A switch technician locates, inspects, tests, and repairs railroad system equipment issues. They conduct routine inspections of the railroad facility to ensure interruption-free facilities for the users in an organization. He works closely with other field engineering technicians to upgrade equipment if needed.

This role requires spontaneous decision-making, timely coordination, and reasonable technological and equipment-handling skills.

7. Railroad Engineer

Salary range: $34,500-$69,500 per year

A railroad engineer provides technical engineering expertise and insight on railway projects such as Train and traffic signal control, rail vehicles, fare collection, and traction power.

As a railroad engineer, the job duties include tracking weather conditions, writing reports and updating maintenance records, monitoring controls and equipment, controlling the speed of the Train, maintaining train inspection logs, communicating with other railroad employees, managing time to keep trains on schedule, and responding appropriately to emergencies. 

A railroad engineer must possess excellent critical thinking skills and should be able to make quick decisions. Also, strong communication and management skills are a plus point.

8. Locomotive Electrician

Salary range: $43,500-$66,000 per year

As a locomotive electrician, the responsibility is to detect faults, troubleshoot problems, repair locomotive electrical components of the Train (circuit systems, motors, fuse system, and battery), and train control systems. Locomotive electricians offer their services in repair and maintenance for railroad freight or passenger companies. In addition to your routine inspections, he documents daily logs of safety and maintenance inspections and orders replacement parts for trains.

9. Transfer Driver

Salary range: $28,000-$47,000 per year

A transfer driver is like performing the duties of a delivery driver. He undertakes the tasks of hauling a load from one location to another. 

His job duties include:

  • Inspecting the assigned truck for roadworthiness.
  • Filling out paperwork.
  • Assist dock workers in loading and unloading freight.
  • Communicating with a dispatcher. 

This job requires a valid truck driver’s license for the specific type of truck. The primary skills include an independent working style, communication skills, and the ability to complete the paperwork correctly.

10. Locomotive Mechanic

Salary range: $39,500-$54,000 per year

A train or railroad mechanic maintains and repairs train engines and equipment and performs preventive maintenance.  In this career, the work duties usually focus on diesel-powered locomotives. While performing repair service, he has to operate heavy equipment, such as hydraulic lifts, mechanical drills, and lathes.

He works in a train yard or station and also travels to a remote location to repair a non-functioning train on the tracks.  Entry-level locomotive mechanics are students in technology or vocational programs. You work as an assistant or apprentice while you gain job skills necessary to work independently.

11. Train Dispatcher

Salary range: $35,500-$51,000 per year

A train dispatcher is a railroad controller that directs the traffic and controls the Train’s movement on a specified territory to ensure safety across railroad tracks. 

As a train dispatcher, your work revolves around monitoring the routes of passenger and freight trains, controlling remote track signals and devices, and communicating with personnel on weather, environmental, and emergency conditions affecting train movement.  A person willing to do this job must follow company guidelines and the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) regulations.

12. Track Worker

Salary range: $31,000-$50,000 per year

A track worker is a railroad crew member responsible for laying, repairing, and maintaining railroad tracks and equipment.

As a track worker, his work responsibility includes:

  • Replacing and removing worn or damaged track components.
  • Lubricating wheel bearings.
  • Placing sleepers across red beds.
  • Assisting in the righting of derailed rolling stock.  

Performing the operations under safety regulations is a necessary part of this job. For a career as a track worker, you need a high school diploma or GED certificate, should be physically demanding, and willing to work outdoors.

13. Railcar Mechanic

Salary range: $33,000-$47,500 per year

A railcar mechanic is a freight maintenance specialist overseeing the repair and maintenance of a railcar, tank car, or freight equipment. 

Moreover, he also performs welding tasks such as installing new parts or components in cars and locomotives.  He also operates trains to the depot and drives other vehicles around the facility as needed. He must adhere to all rules and safety procedures during the operation.

14. Locomotive Engineer

Salary range: $42,000-$47,000 per year

Locomotive engineers are responsible for operating passenger or freight trains between stations. Some locomotive engineers work in a station or rail yard where they supervise updates about track conditions and the coupling of train cars. 

Before departure, a locomotive engineer inspects and monitors the Train using manual and computer controls such as speed, air pressure, and battery. He plans the train schedule and keeps communicating with control centers to ensure the safety of the Train. Locomotive engineers also register any problems that may arise during the route.

15. Signalman

Salary range: $36,500-$46,000 per year

An employee in the railway industry operates railroad signals from a signal box for controlling train transportation. 

His job involves controlling the Train’s movement safely and promptly and reporting any incidents along the way. 

To land this position, a candidate must be able to identify different railroad signals, have essential knowledge about maintenance and operation issues, and have a basic -how of the electrical applications of the signal box. Similar job titles include signal system technician and assistant signalman.

16. Railroad Track Laborer

Salary range: $36,500-$41,000 per year

A track laborer is a worker who performs various physical tasks, such as inspecting, maintaining, building, and repairing railroad tracks. Railroad track laborers spend most of their time outside. This job is physically challenging because workers need much standing and stooping.  As a railroad track laborer, your duties involved installing and maintaining all railroad track parts, including laying rails, ties, and spikes. 

For this career, you need to be physically fit and familiar with specialized equipment like bed tamping machines.  Skills requirements include mechanical skills, attention to detail, and engineering knowledge

17. Railroad Conductor

Salary range: $30,000-$40,000 per year

The role of the Train, or railroad, conductors is to facilitate all the operations of the Train, cargo, and crew. They keep track of the Train and inspect all equipment before departure. They ensure all the functions are correctly performed and comply with all regulations and requirements.

In addition to operating the Train, they are responsible for a secure and orderly environment for passengers. They coordinate the daily activities of the Train and get in touch with railroad crew members and stations through radio or telephone.

18. Switchman

Salary range: $28,000-$37,500 per year

A rail transport worker whose duty is to operate the track switches for a railroad. Their job duties involve:

  • Assisting in moving cars on a railroad.
  • Operating railway switches.
  • Examining air brakes.
  • Inspect essential parts of the trains. 

Anyone seeking to begin a career as a switchman must have excellent physical strength and stamina. He has to undergo a physical and medical exam to fit in for the job. 

Additional skills include mechanical sound skills and good hand-eye coordination. Most rail yards provide on-the-job training so switchmen can learn about railroad equipment and standard policies and procedures.

19. Subway Operator

Salary range: $25,000-$37,000 per year

An automotive professional that operates vehicles for public transportation, including trains, subways, and trams.

The primary responsibilities of a subway operator include the following:

  • Performing essential vehicle maintenance.
  • Coordinating with other operators.
  • Helping passengers manage the transition from other transportation systems like trains or city streetcars.
  • Overseeing evacuations if emergencies occur, Helping passengers with special needs, and reporting malfunctions.

Skills needed are Time management, Customer service, Manual talent, and knowledge of safety procedures

20. Switcher

Salary range: $32,500-$43,000 per year

A yard switcher, sometimes called a yard jockey, works to move trailers or rail car beds around the yard, preparing them to load or unload cargo. The yard switcher also ensures that the area remains clear so traffic can pass through easily. 

A switcher should be familiar with driving a tractor-trailer semi, locomotive, or other specialized equipment.

21. Signal Apprentice

Salary range: $33,000-$50,000 per year

A signal apprentice performs the duties of a signal maintainer through on-the-job training and experience. He installs, tests, repairs, and inspects signal equipment. 

For this role, a candidate needs an understanding of safety systems and installation knowledge. As a signal apprentice, you learn the skills necessary to complete your job, especially those related to wiring the equipment.

22. Signal Inspector

Salary range: $49,500-$135,500 per year

The role of a signal inspector is concerned with controlling, testing, maintaining, and inspecting signals, warning systems, gates crossing, track switches, and section lines within a railroad system.

Conclusion

The railroad industry is diverse and vibrant and offers numerous career opportunities. It plays a significant role in the economic development of the country and the transport supply chain. One of the most exciting aspects of the railroad sector is its rapid expansion. 

If you are in search of a career that offers job security, career growth, good compensation, and diverse working opportunities then a job in a railroad will prove to be a healthy option. A combination of a few hard and soft skills can take you along to senior-level positions.