Railway workers may be employed in a variety of disciplines, including rail laying and maintenance, conductors, yardmasters, signal operators and car repairers. Those working with railroads are also not restricted to passenger cars but may also be employed with freight and mine work. An apprenticeship is usually required to begin a career in these fields.
Rail Laying, Maintenance and Equipment Operators
Employees in this sector are responsible for the laying, maintenance and repair of tracks. This includes workers in all rail sectors from passenger railways to mines. A total of 14,880 people were employed in this role in 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, with a mean hourly wage of £14.30 and a mean annual wage of £29,900. The median hourly wage was £14.20 with 10 per cent earning £19.7 or more. This corresponded to a median annual salary of £29,659 with 10 per cent of employees earning £41,041 or more.
Rail Car Repairers
As the name suggests, these workers repair and maintain rail cars, which may include freight, passenger or mine cars. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 20,910 people were employed in this profession in 2009 with an average annual salary of £30,179; that equated to a mean hourly wage of £14.50. The median was £30,199 per year, with 90 per cent earning less than £42,061. In hourly terms, this equated to a median of £14.50, with 90 per cent earning less than £36,744 a year.
Railroad Conductors and Yardmasters
Conductors are charged with managing train crew and coordinating with yardmasters. Likewise, yardmasters manage the activities of workers involved with traffic management. The average salary in 2009 for these professions was £35,685 a year, which equated to £17.1 hourly, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A total of 41,540 people were employed in these professions in 2009. The median hourly and annual wage was £16.80 and £35,061, with a 90th percentile of £25.3 and £52,786.
Railroad Brake, Signal and Switch Operators
Reporting to yardmasters, these employees oversee the braking, signal and switch operations of a railyard. Of the 24,270 surveyed employees in these professions in 2009, the average annual salary was £32,240, with an hourly wage of £15.50. The median hourly wage was £15.0, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with 10 per cent making £9.40 or more, and the median average wage was £31,219 with 10 per cent of people making £19,604 or more.