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Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators and Locomotive Firers

Operate or monitor railroad track switches or locomotive instruments. May couple or uncouple rolling stock to make up or break up trains. Watch for and relay traffic signals. May inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and hand brakes. May watch for dragging equipment or obstacles on rights-of-way.

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    Work Activities

    Work Activities

    • Observe train signals along routes and verify their meanings for engineers.
    • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
    • Ride atop cars that have been shunted, and turn handwheels to control speeds or stop cars at specified positions.
    • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
    • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
    • Inspect locomotives to detect damaged or worn parts.
    • Inspect couplings, air hoses, journal boxes, and handbrakes to ensure that they are securely fastened and functioning properly.
    • Climb ladders to tops of cars to set brakes.
    • Adjust controls to regulate air-conditioning, heating, and lighting on trains for comfort of passengers.
    • Monitor oil, temperature, and pressure gauges on dashboards to determine if engines are operating safely and efficiently.
    • Start diesel engines to warm engines before runs.
    • Observe signals from other crew members so that work activities can be coordinated.
    • Receive oral or written instructions from yardmasters or yard conductors indicating track assignments and cars to be switched.
    • Make minor repairs to couplings, air hoses, and journal boxes, using hand tools.
    • Signal other workers to set brakes and to throw track switches when switching cars from trains to way stations.
    • Pull or push track switches to reroute cars.
    • Provide passengers with assistance entering and exiting trains.
    • Signal locomotive engineers to start or stop trains when coupling or uncoupling cars, using hand signals, lanterns, or radio communication.
    • Operate and drive locomotives, diesel switch engines, dinkey engines, flatcars, and railcars in train yards and at industrial sites.
    • Monitor trains as they go around curves to detect dragging equipment and smoking journal boxes.
    • Observe tracks from left sides of locomotives to detect obstructions on tracks.
    • Operate locomotives in emergency situations.
    • Connect air hoses to cars, using wrenches.
    • Inspect tracks, cars, and engines for defects and to determine service needs, sending engines and cars for repairs as necessary.
    • Monitor oil, temperature, and pressure gauges on dashboards to determine if engines are operating safely and efficiently.
    • Check to see that trains are equipped with supplies such as fuel, water, and sand.
    • Set flares, flags, lanterns, or torpedoes in front and at rear of trains during emergency stops to warn oncoming trains.
    • Refuel and lubricate engines.
    • Answer questions from passengers concerning train rules, stations, and timetable information.
    • Raise levers to couple and uncouple cars for makeup and breakup of trains.

    Skills

    • Technology Design

      Making equipment and technology useful for customers.

    • Operations Monitoring

      Watching gauges, dials, or display screens to make sure a machine is working.

    • Judgment and Decision Making

      Thinking about the pros and cons of different options and picking the best one.

    • Management of Financial Resources

      Making spending decisions and keeping track of what is spent.

    • Reading Comprehension

      Reading work-related information.

    • Science

      Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.

    • Critical Thinking

      Thinking about the pros and cons of different ways to solve a problem.

    • Speaking

      Talking to others.

    • Active Listening

      Listening to others, not interrupting, and asking good questions.

    • Service Orientation

      Looking for ways to help people.

    • Negotiation

      Bringing people together to solve differences.

    • Management of Personnel Resources

      Selecting and managing the best workers for a job.

    • Complex Problem Solving

      Noticing a problem and figuring out the best way to solve it.

    • Equipment Selection

      Deciding what kind of tools and equipment are needed to do a job.

    • Installation

      Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs.

    • Programming

      Writing computer programs.

    • Equipment Maintenance

      Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment.

    • Systems Analysis

      Figuring out how a system should work and how changes in the future will affect it.

    • Active Learning

      Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.

    • Monitoring

      Keeping track of how well people and/or groups are doing in order to make improvements.

    • Social Perceptiveness

      Understanding people's reactions.

    • Instructing

      Teaching people how to do something.

    • Persuasion

      Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior.

    • Operation and Control

      Using equipment or systems.

    • Quality Control Analysis

      Testing how well a product or service works.

    • Management of Material Resources

      Managing equipment and materials.

    • Repairing

      Repairing machines or systems using the right tools.

    • Systems Evaluation

      Measuring how well a system is working and how to improve it.

    • Writing

      Writing things for co-workers or customers.

    • Mathematics

      Using math to solve problems.

    • Coordination

      Changing what is done based on other people's actions.

    • Operations Analysis

      Figuring out what a product or service needs to be able to do.

    • Troubleshooting

      Figuring out what is causing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs to not work.

    • Time Management

      Managing your time and the time of other people.

    • Learning Strategies

      Using the best training or teaching strategies for learning new things.

    WorkKeys®

    Applied Math
    N/A
    Workplace Documents
    N/A
    Graphic Literacy
    N/A

    Abilities

    • Problem Sensitivity

      Noticing when problems happen.

    • Rate Control

      Changing when and how fast you move based on how something else is moving.

    • Stamina

      Exercising for a long time without getting out of breath.

    • Memorization

      Remembering words, numbers, pictures, or steps.

    • Wrist-Finger Speed

      Making fast, simple, repeated movements of your fingers, hands, and wrists.

    • Dynamic Strength

      Exercising for a long time without your muscles getting tired.

    • Perceptual Speed

      Quickly comparing groups of letters, numbers, pictures, or other things.

    • Time Sharing

      Doing two or more things at the same time.

    • Control Precision

      Quickly changing the controls of a machine, car, truck or boat.

    • Glare Sensitivity

      Seeing something even if there is a glare or very bright light.

    • Far Vision

      Seeing details that are far away.

    • Written Comprehension

      Reading and understanding what is written.

    • Fluency of Ideas

      Coming up with lots of ideas.

    • Originality

      Creating new and original ideas.

    • Sound Localization

      Noticing the direction that a sound came from.

    • Speech Recognition

      Recognizing spoken words.

    • Speed of Closure

      Quickly knowing what you are looking at.

    • Visualization

      Imagining how something will look after it is moved around or changed.

    • Manual Dexterity

      Holding or moving items with your hands.

    • Response Orientation

      Quickly deciding if you should move your hand, foot, or other body part.

    • Speed of Limb Movement

      Quickly moving your arms and legs.

    • Deductive Reasoning

      Using rules to solve problems.

    • Selective Attention

      Paying attention to something without being distracted.

    • Finger Dexterity

      Putting together small parts with your fingers.

    • Static Strength

      Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying.

    • Spatial Orientation

      Knowing where things are around you.

    • Arm-Hand Steadiness

      Keeping your arm or hand steady.

    • Depth Perception

      Deciding which thing is closer or farther away from you, or deciding how far away it is from you.

    • Near Vision

      Seeing details up close.

    • Hearing Sensitivity

      Telling the difference between sounds.

    • Auditory Attention

      Paying attention to one sound while there are other distracting sounds.

    • Visual Color Discrimination

      Noticing the difference between colors, including shades and brightness.

    • Oral Expression

      Communicating by speaking.

    • Night Vision

      Seeing at night or under low light.

    • Oral Comprehension

      Listening and understanding what people say.

    • Written Expression

      Communicating by writing.

    • Speech Clarity

      Speaking clearly.

    • Category Flexibility

      Grouping things in different ways.

    • Trunk Strength

      Using your lower back and stomach.

    • Gross Body Coordination

      Moving your arms, legs, and mid-section together while your whole body is moving.

    • Mathematical Reasoning

      Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.

    • Flexibility of Closure

      Seeing hidden patterns.

    • Information Ordering

      Ordering or arranging things.

    • Multilimb Coordination

      Using your arms and/or legs together while sitting, standing, or lying down.

    • Dynamic Flexibility

      Quickly and repeatedly bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching out with your body, arms, and/or legs.

    • Inductive Reasoning

      Making general rules or coming up with answers from lots of detailed information.

    • Number Facility

      Adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing.

    • Reaction Time

      Quickly moving your hand, finger, or foot based on a sound, light, picture or other command.

    • Explosive Strength

      Jumping, sprinting, or throwing something.

    • Extent Flexibility

      Bending, stretching, twisting, or reaching with your body, arms, and/or legs.

    • Gross Body Equilibrium

      Keeping your balance or staying upright.

    • Peripheral Vision

      Seeing something to your side when your are looking ahead.

    Knowledge

    • Economics and Accounting

      Knowledge of economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.

    • Medicine and Dentistry

      Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.

    • Mathematics

      Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.

    • Therapy and Counseling

      Knowledge of principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions, and for career counseling and guidance.

    • Biology

      Knowledge of plant and animal organisms, their tissues, cells, functions, interdependencies, and interactions with each other and the environment.

    • Sociology and Anthropology

      Knowledge of group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures, and their history and origins.

    • Administration and Management

      Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.

    • Customer and Personal Service

      Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.

    • Philosophy and Theology

      Knowledge of different philosophical systems and religions. This includes their basic principles, values, ethics, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.

    • Engineering and Technology

      Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.

    • Psychology

      Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.

    • Fine Arts

      Knowledge of the theory and techniques required to compose, produce, and perform works of music, dance, visual arts, drama, and sculpture.

    • Administrative

      Knowledge of administrative and office procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, stenography and transcription, designing forms, and workplace terminology.

    • Personnel and Human Resources

      Knowledge of principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.

    • Public Safety and Security

      Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.

    • Physics

      Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub-atomic structures and processes.

    • Education and Training

      Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

    • Telecommunications

      Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.

    • Chemistry

      Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.

    • English Language

      Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

    • Law and Government

      Knowledge of laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process.

    • Transportation

      Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.

    • Building and Construction

      Knowledge of materials, methods, and the tools involved in the construction or repair of houses, buildings, or other structures such as highways and roads.

    • History and Archeology

      Knowledge of historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.

    • Computers and Electronics

      Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.

    • Communications and Media

      Knowledge of media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. This includes alternative ways to inform and entertain via written, oral, and visual media.

    • Sales and Marketing

      Knowledge of principles and methods for showing, promoting, and selling products or services. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, sales techniques, and sales control systems.

    • Foreign Language

      Knowledge of the structure and content of a foreign (non-English) language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition and grammar, and pronunciation.

    • Geography

      Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.

    • Food Production

      Knowledge of techniques and equipment for planting, growing, and harvesting food products (both plant and animal) for consumption, including storage/handling techniques.

    • Production and Processing

      Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.

    • Mechanical

      Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.

    • Design

      Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.

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    Pay

    • Ohio Annual Salary 59760/yr
    • Typical Salary
    • Ohio Hourly Wage 28.73/hr
    • Typical Hourly Wage

    Ohio Employment Trends

    • Currently Employed 12,300
    • Yearly Projected Openings 1200

    Typical Education

    Personality

    Realistic: People interested in this work like activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions.They do well at jobs that need:
    • Dependability
    • Attention to Detail
    • Stress Tolerance
    • Self Control
    • Adaptability/Flexibility
    • Independence

    Tools

    • Accelerometers
    • Ammeters
    • Battery hydrometer
    • Circuit breakers
    • Desktop computers
    • Diesel freight locomotives
    • Diesel generators
    • Electric freight locomotives
    • Electrical control panels for generators
    • Fire extinguishers
    • Flags or accessories
    • Flares
    • Freight rail cars
    • Heavy rail turnout switch
    • Kerosene or propane or natural gas or butane lantern
    • Oil gauges
    • Pilot valves
    • Pressure indicators
    • Protective gloves
    • Rail couplers
    • Rail switching systems
    • Railway or tramway maintenance or service vehicle
    • Safety boots
    • Safety glasses
    • Safety horns
    • Safety vests
    • Scaffolding
    • Screwdrivers
    • Specialty wrenches
    • Speedometers
    • Steam engines
    • Temperature gauge
    • Train braking systems
    • Two way radios
    • Voltage or current meters
    • Wheel chocks
    • Winches

    Technology

    • Data base user interface and query software
    • Expert system software
    • Route navigation software
    • Time accounting software

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