Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators
Lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines. Includes ballast cleaning machine operators and railroad bed tamping machine operators.
Sample of reported job titles: Machine Operator, Rail Maintenance Worker, Track Equipment Operator (TEO), Track Inspector, Track Laborer, Track Maintainer, Track Repairer, Track Walker, Trackman
View report: Summary Details Custom Easy Read Veterans Español
Tasks | Technology Skills | Tools Used | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported.
- Repair or adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts.
- Weld sections of track together, such as switch points and frogs.
- Observe leveling indicator arms to verify levelness and alignment of tracks.
- Operate single- or multiple-head spike driving machines to drive spikes into ties and secure rails.
- Operate track wrenches to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together.
- Cut rails to specified lengths, using rail saws.
- Lubricate machines, change oil, or fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels.
- Drill holes through rails, tie plates, or fishplates for insertion of bolts or spikes, using power drills.
- Clean tracks or clear ice or snow from tracks or switch boxes.
- Clean, grade, or level ballast on railroad tracks.
- Raise rails, using hydraulic jacks, to allow for tie removal and replacement.
- Adjust controls of machines that spread, shape, raise, level, or align track, according to specifications.
- Dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points or frogs, using portable power grinders.
- Clean or make minor repairs to machines or equipment.
- Grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders.
- Operate single- or multiple-head spike pullers to pull old spikes from ties.
- String and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled.
- Engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.
- Drive graders, tamping machines, brooms, or ballast spreading machines to redistribute gravel or ballast between rails.
- Drive vehicles that automatically move and lay tracks or rails over sections of track to be constructed, repaired, or maintained.
- Turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to adjust guidelines for track alignments or grades, following specifications.
- Push controls to close grasping devices on track or rail sections so that they can be raised or moved.
- Operate tie-adzing machines to cut ties and permit insertion of fishplates that hold rails.
- Paint railroad signs, such as speed limits or gate-crossing warnings.
- Spray ties, fishplates, or joints with oil to protect them from weathering.
Find occupations related to multiple tasks
back to top
- Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software
- Enterprise resource planning ERP software
- Office suite software — Microsoft Office
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Time accounting software — Timekeeping software
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
back to top
- Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
back to top
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others’ actions.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Repairing — Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Time Management — Managing one’s own time and the time of others.
back to top
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
- Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
- Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
- Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Dynamic Strength — The ability to exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
- Extent Flexibility — The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Response Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Trunk Strength — The ability to use your abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without “giving out” or fatiguing.
- Gross Body Coordination — The ability to coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
back to top
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.
- Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling materials.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Monitoring Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment — Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Coordinating the Work and Activities of Others — Getting members of a group to work together to accomplish tasks.
- Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
- Guiding, Directing, and Motivating Subordinates — Providing guidance and direction to subordinates, including setting performance standards and monitoring performance.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
- Developing Objectives and Strategies — Establishing long-range objectives and specifying the strategies and actions to achieve them.
back to top
Detailed Work Activities
- Locate equipment or materials in need of repair or replacement.
- Maintain mechanical equipment.
- Weld metal components.
- Verify alignment of structures or equipment.
- Operate heavy-duty construction or installation equipment.
- Cut metal components for installation.
- Clean equipment or facilities.
- Maintain construction tools or equipment.
- Drill holes in construction materials.
- Compact materials to create level bases.
- Spread sand, dirt or other loose materials onto surfaces.
- Operate cranes, hoists, or other moving or lifting equipment.
- Smooth surfaces with abrasive materials or tools.
- Apply paint to surfaces.
- Cut wood components for installation.
- Apply sealants or other protective coatings.
Find occupations related to multiple detailed work activities
back to top
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 100% responded “Every day.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 95% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 89% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 81% responded “Every day.”
- Contact With Others — 65% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Physical Proximity — 54% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
- Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 62% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Telephone — 75% responded “Every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 60% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 59% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 61% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 49% responded “Every day.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 51% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 56% responded “Some freedom.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 37% responded “Extremely important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 63% responded “Some freedom.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 45% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 58% responded “Every day.”
- Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 49% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 55% responded “40 hours.”
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 34% responded “Extremely important.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 42% responded “More than half the time.”
- Time Pressure — 45% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 39% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 42% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 65% responded “Important results.”
- Spend Time Standing — 32% responded “More than half the time.”
- Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 38% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Exposed to Whole Body Vibration — 35% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 42% responded “Very important.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 43% responded “Every day.”
- In an Open Vehicle or Equipment — 29% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 38% responded “Important.”
- Letters and Memos — 38% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Walking and Running — 31% responded “About half the time.”
back to top
|Title||Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed|
|Education||These occupations usually require a high school diploma.|
|Related Experience||Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.|
|Job Zone Examples||These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include orderlies, counter and rental clerks, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.|
|SVP Range||(4.0 to < 6.0)|
back to top
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
|90||High school diploma or equivalent
|10||Less than high school diploma|
back to top
back to top
Interest code: R Want to discover your interests? Take the O*NET Interest Profiler at My Next Move.
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
back to top
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
- Independence — Job requires developing one’s own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
back to top
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
back to top
back to top
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2020)||$27.10 hourly, $56,370 annual|
|Employment (2020)||15,700 employees|
|Projected growth (2020-2030)||Average (5% to 10%)|
|Projected job openings (2020-2030)||1,500|
|Top industries (2020)||
Transportation and Warehousing
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2020 wage data and 2020-2030 employment projections . “Projected growth” represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2020-2030). “Projected job openings” represent openings due to growth and replacement.
back to top
Job Openings on the Web
back to top
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Amalgamated Transit Union
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters
- National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association
back to top