Train Conductor Salary

Becoming a train conductor can take as little as 6 months with our Rail Operations Training Program. As railroads are still a major player in the transportation sector, conductors work to coordinate the activities of the crew aboard passenger or freight trains.

Job Title and Median Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median wage for railroad workers in 2020 was $64,210.

 Railroad conductors and yardmasters $64,210
 Railroad brake, signal, and switch operators and locomotive firers $57,870
 Rail yard engineers, dinkey operators, and hostlers $51,720
 Total, all occupations in the U.S. Economy $41,950

As trains operate 24/7, some railroad shifts may be overnight, on weekends, and on holidays. Most railroad workers are full-time employees. Some rail employees have long travel routes which may contribute to longer periods of time away from home. Alternatively, passenger trains usually yield shorter routes, possibly contributing to a more predictable schedule. In this industry, seniority usually determines which employees are given the most desirable shifts.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Railroad Workers, at (visited August 8, 2021).

Railroad Jobs

In general, railroad workers typically perform the following:

  • Mechanical checks and assessments of locomotives; make adjustments and fixes where necessary
  • Documentation of any issues with trains that require further inspection or repair
  • Operation of locomotive engines within stations or from one station to another.

Train Conductor:

Conductors travel on freight and passenger trains; they are tasked with coordinating the train crew’s activities. While aboard passenger trains, conductors make announcements to passengers to ensure safety and comfort. On Freight trains, conductors are the overseers of the loading and unloading of cargo.

Rail Conductors generally do the following:

  • Accept passenger payments
  • Check the tickets of passengers
  • Offer announcements to passengers as needed
  • Assist passengers to safety when needed
  • Ensure that passengers are safe and orderly while aboard
  • Oversee the loading and unloading of cargo


Yardmasters have a similar role as conductors; however, they do not travel on trains. Rather, they oversee and coordinate activities within the rail yard. They direct engineers where to move cars and ensure that trains are leaving with the proper cars/transport materials.

In a nutshell, yardmasters do the following:

  • Coordinate for damaged or defective train cars to be removed for repair
  • Review various schedules, switching orders, and shipping records for freight trains
  • Order the switching of train traffic to allow inbound/outbound traffic through
  • Oversee the breaking up or assembly of train cars

Railroad Brake, Signal, or Switch Operator:

In general, these personnel control the equipment that ensures the trains are operating safely.

  • Brake Operators: Assist in coupling/uncoupling train cars
  • Signal Operators: Install and maintain the various signals along tracks within rail yards
  • Switch Operators: Control track switches in rail yards