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Rail Yard Engineers

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This is a Demand OccupationA Demand Occupation is defined as follows.

The hierarchy for qualification is the Regional Demand
(the occupation had a entry wage equal to or greater
than 90% of the Economic Development Region (EDR) negotiated
wage as an average of all LWIA’s in the EDR AND at
least 25 annual average job openings in the EDR);
State Wide (the occupation qualified for at least
5 of the Regional Demands and thus was added to all
ten EDR lists); Career Cluster (the occupation is
listed on at least one of the six career clusters
Illinois has identified as priority [data is available
under the career clusters on the The National
Association of State Directors of Career Technical
Education Consortium website at ]), and Regional
Request (an LWIA received approval of a request to
add an occupation code to its EDR list based on substantiative
data and information supporting a need in the region).
NOTE: Only those occupations with a Source of Regional
Demand or State Wide will be eligible for incentive
bonus award under the Minimum Training Expenditure
policy requirements.

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Rail Yard Engineers - Occupation Overview

  • Do a variety of tasks, from repair to rerouting
  • Have a medium level of social interaction
  • Usually work outdoors
  • May work any shift, including evenings and weekends
  • Most train on the job
  • Earn $52,466 per year (Illinois median)
  • Earn $51,340 per year (national median)

Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators take care of railroad tracks and equipment. They put rail cars together for the transport of passengers and freight.

Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators keep trains moving along travel routes. They refuel engines and oil moving parts. They inspect the following for defects:

  • Cars
  • Engines
  • Rails
  • Ties

Operators divert cars or engines that need repairs. They keep track of how many cars are available, how many have been sent for repairs, and what types of service or repairs are needed.

Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators get assignments from the yard conductor or yardmaster. They read the daily car schedule to determine how many cars are needed for the next day's run. They use these schedules to put the trains together.

Operators raise and lower levers to couple and uncouple cars. They use hand tools to attach cables and connect air hoses to cars. Operators use remote controls to move cars from track to track in the yard. They throw track switches to route cars. They ride on top of moving cars and operate hand wheels to slow and stop them.

Operators make traffic signals using arms, lanterns, or electronic controls. They watch for traffic signals from other workers. They set flares, flags, or lanterns ahead and behind stopped trains during emergencies to warn oncoming trains.


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