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.
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 Indeed.com indicates that a switchman earned an average annual salary of $60,000 as of 2010.