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Summary Report for:
53-4013.00 - Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers

Drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.

Sample of reported job titles: Car Repairman, Conductor, Engineer, Equipment Operator, Railcar Switcher, Railroad Engineer, Switch Crew Supervisor, Switchman, Transportation Specialist, Yard Engineer

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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

Tasks

  • Confer with conductors and other workers via radiotelephones or computers to exchange switching information.
  • Signal crew members for movement of engines or trains, using lanterns, hand signals, radios, or telephones.
  • Observe and respond to wayside and cab signals, including color light signals, position signals, torpedoes, flags, and hot box detectors.
  • Drive engines within railroad yards or other establishments to couple, uncouple, or switch railroad cars.
  • Inspect engines before and after use to ensure proper operation.
  • Apply and release hand brakes.
  • Read switching instructions and daily car schedules to determine work to be performed, or receive orders from yard conductors.
  • Inspect the condition of stationary trains, rolling stock, and equipment.
  • Observe water levels and oil, air, and steam pressure gauges to ensure proper operation of equipment.
  • Spot cars for loading and unloading at customer locations.
  • Inspect track for defects such as broken rails and switch malfunctions.
  • Ride on moving cars by holding onto grab irons and standing on ladder steps.
  • Operate track switches, derails, automatic switches, and retarders to change routing of train or cars.
  • Receive, relay, and act upon instructions and inquiries from train operations and customer service center personnel.
  • Couple and uncouple air hoses and electrical connections between cars.
  • Report arrival and departure times, train delays, work order completion, and time on duty.
  • Pull knuckles to open them for coupling.
  • Provide assistance in aligning drawbars, using available equipment to lift, pull, or push on the drawbars.
  • Drive locomotives to and from various stations in roundhouses to have locomotives cleaned, serviced, repaired, or supplied.
  • Record numbers of cars available, numbers of cars sent to repair stations, and types of service needed.
  • Perform routine repair and maintenance duties.
  • Operate and control dinkey engines to transport and shunt cars at industrial or mine sites.
  • Operate flatcars equipped with derricks or railcars to transport personnel or equipment.
  • Provide assistance in the installation or repair of rails and ties.

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Technology Skills

  • Data base user interface and query software — Railyard management software RMS
  • Facilities management software — Railcar inspection management software
  • Internet browser software — Web browser software
  • Inventory management software — Railyard inventory software

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Tools Used

  • Air hoses — Air brake hoses
  • Capstan — Capstan car pullers
  • Cold chisels — Flat cold chisels
  • Derricks — Car-mounted derricks
  • Diagonal cut pliers
  • Diesel freight locomotives — Dinkey engines; Switching diesel engines; Switching locomotives
  • Drum openers — Hopper gate openers
  • Ear plugs — Hearing protection plugs
  • Flags or accessories — Signal flags
  • Flares — Signal flares
  • Hammers — Multipurpose hammers
  • Hand sprayers — Handheld sprayers
  • Hard hats
  • Heavy rail turnout switch — Automatic switches; Hinged derailers; Rerailers; Sliding derailers (see all 5 examples)
  • Kerosene or propane or natural gas or butane lantern — Lanterns
  • Oil gauges — Oil pressure gauges
  • Personal computers
  • Pressure indicators — Air pressure gauges; Steam pressure gauges; Water pressure gauges
  • Punches or nail sets or drifts — Backout punches; Punch sets
  • Rail switching systems — Track switches
  • Railway rolling stock lifting jack — Railcar stabilizing jacks
  • Railway signaling systems — Cab signals; Color light signals; Position signals
  • Ratchets — Locking ratchet wrenches
  • Safety boots — Steel-toed boots
  • Safety glasses — Protective glasses
  • Socket sets — Socket wrench sets
  • Specialty wrenches — Tank car dome socket wrenches; Wrench sets
  • Temperature gauge — Hot bearing detectors
  • Train braking systems — Hand brakes; Hand wheels; Retarders
  • Two way radios — Mobile radios
  • Utility knives
  • Wheel chocks — Bumping posts; Rail car stops; Rail chocks; Rail skids
  • Winches — Winch car pullers
  • Wire brushes — Wire cleaning brushes

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Knowledge

  • Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
  • 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.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
  • 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.

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Skills

  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • 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.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
  • 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.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
  • Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
  • Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.

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Abilities

  • 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 there is a problem.
  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • 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.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • 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.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
  • Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
  • 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).
  • Spatial Orientation — The ability to know your location in relation to the environment or to know where other objects are in relation to you.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • 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.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
  • 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.
  • Gross Body Equilibrium — The ability to keep or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable position.
  • Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).

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Work Activities

  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • 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.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
  • Monitor 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.
  • Training and Teaching Others — Identifying the educational needs of others, developing formal educational or training programs or classes, and teaching or instructing others.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things.
  • Coaching and Developing Others — Identifying the developmental needs of others and coaching, mentoring, or otherwise helping others to improve their knowledge or skills.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
  • 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 of materials.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
  • Scheduling Work and Activities — Scheduling events, programs, and activities, as well as the work of others.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
  • Thinking Creatively — Developing, designing, or creating new applications, ideas, relationships, systems, or products, including artistic contributions.
  • Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
  • 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.
  • Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Monitor traffic signals.
  • Signal others to coordinate vehicle movement.
  • Operate locomotives or other rail vehicles.
  • Inspect locomotives or other railroad equipment.
  • Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments.
  • Review work orders or schedules to determine operations or procedures.
  • Measure the level or depth of water or other liquids.
  • Monitor vehicle movement or location.
  • Climb ladders or vehicles to perform duties.
  • Control equipment that regulates vehicle traffic.
  • Connect cables or electrical lines.
  • Connect hoses to equipment or machinery.
  • Position material handling equipment.
  • Maintain locomotives or other rail equipment in good working condition.
  • Record operational or production data.
  • Record service or repair activities.

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Work Context

  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 95% responded “Very high responsibility.”
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 93% responded “Every day.”
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 91% responded “Every day.”
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 83% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Contact With Others — 78% responded “Constant contact with others.”
  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 71% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 80% responded “Every day.”
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 79% responded “Every day.”
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 49% responded “A lot of freedom.”
  • Time Pressure — 71% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 69% responded “Every day.”
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 45% responded “Every day.”
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 52% responded “High responsibility.”
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 62% responded “More than 40 hours.”
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 49% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Telephone — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Consequence of Error — 54% responded “Extremely serious.”
  • Spend Time Sitting — 44% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 40% responded “Important results.”
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 44% responded “Limited freedom.”
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 44% responded “About half the time.”
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration — 50% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 53% responded “Every day.”
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 53% responded “Every day.”
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 48% responded “Every day.”
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 27% responded “Extremely important.”
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 41% responded “Every day.”
  • Letters and Memos — 46% responded “Every day.”
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 32% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
  • Physical Proximity — 41% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
  • Deal With External Customers — 35% responded “Very important.”

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Job Zone

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, forest firefighters, customer service representatives, security guards, upholsterers, and tellers.
SVP Range (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
79   High school diploma or equivalent Help
14   Some college, no degree
5   Post-secondary certificate Help

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: RCI

  • 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.

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Work Styles

  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
  • 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.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
  • 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.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
  • Innovation — Job requires creativity and alternative thinking to develop new ideas for and answers to work-related problems.

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Work Values

  • 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.
  • Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2016) $24.27 hourly, $50,470 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2014) 4,000 employees
Projected growth (2014-2024) Slower than average (2% to 4%) Slower than average (2% to 4%)
Projected job openings (2014-2024) 1,600
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2014)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016 wage data external site and 2014-2024 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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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.

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