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Switchman Job Description

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Switchmen ensure that railroad tracks are adequate, functional and conform to industry standards and top management's safety instructions. They work in collaboration with brakemen, terminal workers and train service conductors when performing duties.

Work Activities

A switchman oversees the movement of rail cars and train systems, and visually checks switch conditions and routes. He also operates track switches and relays radio, lantern and arm signals affecting the movement of trains.

Aptitude, Tools and Technologies

According to O*Net OnLine, a switchman must have far vision aptitude, good manual dexterity and excellent time management skills. Being able to endure outside weather conditions for an extended period of time also helps. To perform tasks adequately, a switchman often uses radios and goggles.

Knowledge and Earnings

Most switchmen hold a high school diploma, although some individuals have an associate degree in mechanical engineering or business management. Employers prefer applicants with practical experience. The job resources website indicates that a switchman earned an average annual salary of $60,000 as of 2010.


Marquis Codjia is a New York-based freelance writer, investor and banker. He has authored articles since 2000, covering topics such as politics, technology and business. A certified public accountant and certified financial manager, Codjia received a Master of Business Administration from Rutgers University, majoring in investment analysis and financial management.

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