Workers in railroad occupations ensure that passenger and freight trains run on time and travel safely. Some workers drive trains, some coordinate the activities of the trains, and others operate signals and switches in the rail yard.
Nearly all locomotive engineers; conductors and yardmasters; and brake, signal, and switch operators work in the rail transportation industry. Rail yard engineers work in rail transportation and also support activities for rail.
How to Become a Railroad Worker
Railroad workers generally require a high school diploma and several months of on-the-job training.
Employment of railroad workers is projected to decline 3 percent from 2014 to 2024. Although demand for rail transportation may grow, an increase in productivity may hold back employment growth in rail occupations.
This occupation supported 113,700 jobs in 2012 and 113,300 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 0.4%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to decrease by 3.5% in 2022 to 109,699 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 112,900, compared with an observed value of 113,300, 0.4% higher than expected. This indicates current employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to decrease by 2.8% in 2024 to 110,100 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 108,900 jobs for 2024, 1.1% lower than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are about on track with the 2012 trend within this occupation.