Assistant Conductor/ Brakeman

Passenger Train Braker, Railcar Foreman, Railcar Switchman, Railroad Carman, Signal Foreman   More Names
Signal Person, Switch Coupler, Trainman

The position of brakeman is being phased out, and may only exist in larger transit agencies. In most cases, assistant conductors are handling the work that was once done by brakemen, along with their other activities. Assitant conductors are entry-level, yet critical safety positions within rail transportation. They watch the back of the train to look for approaching trains, and for any signs of danger of derailment or hazards along the way. They may be responsible for slowing down particular types of trains and may couple and uncouple cars. They also may help passengers board and disembark at station platforms, open and close doors, and assist with fare collection. Assistant conductors may notify the operator or locomotive engineer when all doors are closed. They work primarily with commuter rail.

Assistant conductors report to both conductors and yardmasters, and may someday and be promoted to those positions. The decisions assistant conductors make are critical to the safety of the train's operations, and they may be expected to work on call. Working conditions require exposure to the elements, fumes, and loud noises.

Assistant conductors should have the ability to work long hours and multiple shifts, and have a good attitude towards teamwork. They must possess good skills in communication, pay attention to detail, and have strong hearing and vision.

Assistant Conductors must have a high school diploma or pass the general educational development (GED) exam. One to two years previous experience working with trains is preferred; some are hired through company training programs. Many employers are requiring assistant conductors to obtain certification as a train operator (frequently from the Northeast Operating Rules Advisory Committee - NORAC). From time to time, workers will have to undergo random drug screening.

Applicants should have a valid driver's license and be able to obtain a commercial driver's license (CDL). To qualify for a CDL, applicants must pass a knowledge test on rules and regulations and then demonstrate in a skills test that they can perform the job safely. The Department of Transportation keeps a national database of all driving violations incurred by CDL holders, and a state may not issue a license to a person who has already had a license suspended or revoked in another state. Drivers may hold only one license at a time, and must surrender all other driver's licenses upon receiving their new CDLs. Information on how to apply for a CDL and each type of endorsement can be obtained from state motor vehicle administrations and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Many industry employers provide on-the-job training, but click on the "get qualified" tab above to see additional resources for job preparation and training.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
-2% - Decline slowly or moderately
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $45,050 - $65,440    Hourly: $22 - $31

Note:  There may be opportunities for overtime work and overtime pay in this occupation.

Physical/Medical/Health Requirements

- Good hearing and vision
- Good overall physical shape

Legal Requirements
Similar Careers

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Typical Education: High School or GED (HS)
Salary (National): $47,190 - $67,950

Locomotive Engineer
Typical Education: High School or GED (HS)
Salary (National): $48,640 - $68,200

Track Maintainer
Typical Education: High School or GED (HS)
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(Data Drawn from O*NET)

Career Snapshot

Typical Education:

High School or GED (HS)
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Percent Job Growth:

-2% - Decline slowly or moderately
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $45,050 - $65,440

Hourly: $22 - $31