The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Diagnose, adjust, repair, or overhaul railroad rolling stock, mine cars, or mass transit rail cars.
Sample of reported job titles:
Freight Maintenance Specialist, Locomotive Repairman, Rail Car Maintenance Mechanic, Rail Car Mechanic, Rail Car Repairer, Rail Car Repairman, Rail Car Sandblaster, Rail Car Welder, Railroad Car Repairman, Train Car Repairman
Record conditions of cars, and repair and maintenance work performed or to be performed.
Inspect components such as bearings, seals, gaskets, wheels, and coupler assemblies to determine if repairs are needed.
Repair or replace defective or worn parts such as bearings, pistons, and gears, using hand tools, torque wrenches, power tools, and welding equipment.
Inspect the interior and exterior of rail cars coming into rail yards to identify defects and to determine the extent of wear and damage.
Remove locomotives, car mechanical units, or other components, using pneumatic hoists and jacks, pinch bars, hand tools, and cutting torches.
Test units for operability before and after repairs.
Adjust repaired or replaced units as needed to ensure proper operation.
Repair, fabricate, and install steel or wood fittings, using blueprints, shop sketches, and instruction manuals.
Perform scheduled maintenance, and clean units and components.
Examine car roofs for wear and damage, and repair defective sections, using roofing material, cement, nails, and waterproof paint.
Paint car exteriors, interiors, and fixtures.
Repair and maintain electrical and electronic controls for propulsion and braking systems.
Disassemble units such as water pumps, control valves, and compressors so that repairs can be made.
Measure diameters of axle wheel seats, using micrometers, and mark dimensions on axles so that wheels can be bored to specified dimensions.
Test electrical systems of cars by operating systems and using testing equipment such as ammeters.
Replace defective wiring and insulation, and tighten electrical connections, using hand tools.
Install and repair interior flooring, fixtures, walls, plumbing, steps, and platforms.
Repair window sash frames, attach weather stripping and channels to frames, and replace window glass, using hand tools.
Align car sides for installation of car ends and crossties, using width gauges, turnbuckles, and wrenches.
Hot Technologies are requirements frequently included in employer job postings.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
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.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
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).
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
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.
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.
Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
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.
Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
Judging the Qualities of Objects, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Detailed Work Activities
Inspect mechanical components of vehicles to identify problems.
Maintain repair or maintenance records.
Repair worn, damaged, or defective mechanical parts.
Replace worn, damaged, or defective mechanical parts.
Inspect vehicles to determine overall condition.
Remove parts or components from equipment.
Inspect completed work to ensure proper functioning.
Adjust equipment to ensure optimal performance.
Disassemble equipment for maintenance or repair.
Repair electronic equipment.
Repair non-engine automotive or vehicle components.
Fabricate parts or components.
Install vehicle parts or accessories.
Measure distances or dimensions.
Clean equipment, parts, or tools to repair or maintain them in good working order.
Service vehicles to maintain functionality.
Inspect structural components of vehicles to identify problems.
Test electrical equipment or systems to ensure proper functioning.
Paint surfaces or equipment.
Install hardware or other interior fixtures.
Repair structural components.
Rewire electrical or electronic systems.
Seal gaps or cracks to prevent leakage or moisture intrusion.
Align equipment or machinery.
Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 89% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 89% responded “Every day.”
Spend Time Standing — 64% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 70% responded “Every day.”
Face-to-Face Discussions — 70% responded “Every day.”
Exposed to Contaminants — 72% responded “Every day.”
Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 70% responded “Every day.”
Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 82% responded “Every day.”
Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 59% responded “Every day.”
Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 64% responded “Every day.”
Freedom to Make Decisions — 51% responded “Some freedom.”
Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 60% responded “Every day.”
Work With Work Group or Team — 11% responded “Important.”
Contact With Others — 56% responded “Constant contact with others.”
Time Pressure — 45% responded “Every day.”
Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 59% responded “Every day.”
In an Open Vehicle or Equipment — 43% responded “Every day.”
Duration of Typical Work Week — 52% responded “40 hours.”
Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 42% responded “Extremely important.”
Coordinate or Lead Others — 48% responded “Extremely important.”
Structured versus Unstructured Work — 37% responded “Some freedom.”
Consequence of Error — 37% responded “Extremely serious.”
Physical Proximity — 58% responded “Moderately close (at arm’s length).”
Spend Time Bending or Twisting the Body — 34% responded “More than half the time.”
Spend Time Walking and Running — 37% responded “More than half the time.”
Exposed to High Places — 33% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Responsible for Others’ Health and Safety — 44% responded “Very high responsibility.”
Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection — 35% responded “Every day.”
In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 30% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 35% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 45% responded “Every day.”
Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 27% responded “Moderate results.”
Spend Time Kneeling, Crouching, Stooping, or Crawling — 28% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 29% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
Frequency of Decision Making — 31% responded “Every day.”
- Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
- 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
- 3 months to 1 year of preparation (4.0 to < 6.0)
Training & Credentials
- State training
- Local training
- Have a career path or location in mind? Visit Apprenticeship.gov
to find apprenticeship opportunities near you.
Repairing — Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
Operations Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
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.
Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Production and Processing — Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Design — Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
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.
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.
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.
Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
How much education does a new hire need to perform a job in this occupation? Respondents said:
High school diploma or equivalent requiredmore info
Post-secondary certificate required
Associate’s degree required
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.
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.
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.
Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
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.
Static Strength — The ability to exert maximum muscle force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects.
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.
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.
Extent Flexibility — The ability to bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
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.
Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
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).
Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
Gross Body Coordination — The ability to coordinate the movement of your arms, legs, and torso together when the whole body is in motion.
Gross Body Equilibrium — The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
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).
Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
Stamina — The ability to exert yourself physically over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
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.
Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
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.
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.
Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
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.
Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.
Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
Self-Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others’ needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
Wages & Employment Trends
- Median wages (2021)
- $28.97 hourly, $60,250 annual
- State wages
- Local wages
- Employment (2020)
- 21,100 employees
- Projected growth (2020-2030)
Average (5% to 10%)
- Projected job openings (2020-2030)
- State trends
- Top industries (2020)
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2021 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.
Job Openings on the Web
- State job openings
- Local job openings