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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

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

    Skills

    • Programming

      Writing computer programs.

    • Operation and Control

      Using equipment or systems.

    • Repairing

      Repairing machines or systems using the right tools.

    • Operations Analysis

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

    • Technology Design

      Making equipment and technology useful for customers.

    • Social Perceptiveness

      Understanding people's reactions.

    • Learning Strategies

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

    • Negotiation

      Bringing people together to solve differences.

    • Persuasion

      Talking people into changing their minds or their behavior.

    • Instructing

      Teaching people how to do something.

    • Management of Personnel Resources

      Selecting and managing the best workers for a job.

    • Equipment Maintenance

      Planning and doing the basic maintenance on equipment.

    • Troubleshooting

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

    • Systems Analysis

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

    • Systems Evaluation

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

    • Installation

      Installing equipment, machines, wiring, or computer programs.

    • Writing

      Writing things for co-workers or customers.

    • Reading Comprehension

      Reading work-related information.

    • Science

      Using scientific rules and strategies to solve problems.

    • Monitoring

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

    • Service Orientation

      Looking for ways to help people.

    • Coordination

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

    • Management of Material Resources

      Managing equipment and materials.

    • Management of Financial Resources

      Making spending decisions and keeping track of what is spent.

    • Operations Monitoring

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

    • Quality Control Analysis

      Testing how well a product or service works.

    • Judgment and Decision Making

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

    • 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.

    • Active Listening

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

    • Time Management

      Managing your time and the time of other people.

    • Critical Thinking

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

    • Mathematics

      Using math to solve problems.

    • Speaking

      Talking to others.

    • Active Learning

      Figuring out how to use new ideas or things.

    WorkKeys®

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

    Abilities

    • Spatial Orientation

      Knowing where things are around you.

    • Visualization

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

    • Selective Attention

      Paying attention to something without being distracted.

    • Time Sharing

      Doing two or more things at the same time.

    • Arm-Hand Steadiness

      Keeping your arm or hand steady.

    • Control Precision

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

    • Multilimb Coordination

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

    • Trunk Strength

      Using your lower back and stomach.

    • Speech Recognition

      Recognizing spoken words.

    • Night Vision

      Seeing at night or under low light.

    • Auditory Attention

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

    • Speed of Closure

      Quickly knowing what you are looking at.

    • Category Flexibility

      Grouping things in different ways.

    • Written Comprehension

      Reading and understanding what is written.

    • Mathematical Reasoning

      Choosing the right type of math to solve a problem.

    • Finger Dexterity

      Putting together small parts with your fingers.

    • Rate Control

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

    • Reaction Time

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

    • Wrist-Finger Speed

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

    • Speed of Limb Movement

      Quickly moving your arms and legs.

    • Static Strength

      Lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying.

    • Dynamic Strength

      Exercising for a long time without your muscles getting tired.

    • Stamina

      Exercising for a long time without getting out of breath.

    • Dynamic Flexibility

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

    • Gross Body Coordination

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

    • Information Ordering

      Ordering or arranging things.

    • Sound Localization

      Noticing the direction that a sound came from.

    • Written Expression

      Communicating by writing.

    • Gross Body Equilibrium

      Keeping your balance or staying upright.

    • Near Vision

      Seeing details up close.

    • Far Vision

      Seeing details that are far away.

    • Visual Color Discrimination

      Noticing the difference between colors, including shades and brightness.

    • Peripheral Vision

      Seeing something to your side when your are looking ahead.

    • Depth Perception

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

    • Glare Sensitivity

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

    • Memorization

      Remembering words, numbers, pictures, or steps.

    • Speech Clarity

      Speaking clearly.

    • Fluency of Ideas

      Coming up with lots of ideas.

    • Inductive Reasoning

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

    • Deductive Reasoning

      Using rules to solve problems.

    • Flexibility of Closure

      Seeing hidden patterns.

    • Perceptual Speed

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

    • Manual Dexterity

      Holding or moving items with your hands.

    • Response Orientation

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

    • Explosive Strength

      Jumping, sprinting, or throwing something.

    • Extent Flexibility

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

    • Oral Comprehension

      Listening and understanding what people say.

    • Originality

      Creating new and original ideas.

    • Hearing Sensitivity

      Telling the difference between sounds.

    • Problem Sensitivity

      Noticing when problems happen.

    • Number Facility

      Adding, subtracting, multiplying, or dividing.

    • Oral Expression

      Communicating by speaking.

    Knowledge

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Law and Government

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

    • Biology

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

    • 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.

    • Economics and Accounting

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

    • Computers and Electronics

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Fine Arts

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Telecommunications

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Sociology and Anthropology

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

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • Transportation

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

    • 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.

    • Design

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

    • History and Archeology

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

    • 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.

    • English Language

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

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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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