To work as a railroad brake, signal, and switch operator, you typically need to:
- have a high school diploma or equivalent; and
- complete moderate-term, on-the-job training.
Education after high school
Formal education beyond high school is not required for this occupation.
Experience in mechanics, equipment operation, welding, or electrical work is good preparation for yard work.
Most railroad brake, signal, and switch operators learn their skills through on-the-job training. Railroad firms train applicants in a company program. If the railroad is small, the company may send trainees to an outside training facility. Typical training programs combine classroom and on-site training. For signal operators training lasts between four and six weeks. Training is longer for brake operators. It lasts between ten and 18 weeks
Continuing education is important for advancement in the railroad industry. Many jobs require training and classroom instruction. Seniority is another factor which allows you to move up through the ranks.