Heavy Rail / Subway Operator

Commuter Train Operator, Rail Operator, Service Vehicle Operator, Shuttle Route Vehicle Operator   More Names
Subway Train Operator, Transfer Car Operator, Vehicle Operator

Heavy rail and subway operators operate rail cars on a fixed rail system with frequent stops. Increasingly automated by computers, these trains are in some ways less difficult to operate than large locomotives. Operators make announcements to customers, operate doors, and communicate with dispatchers and supervisors. They often work independently, and must be alert to track signals, potential maintenance problems, and obstacles on the track.

Heavy rail and subway operators generally report to supervisors or dispatchers in remote control rooms. Operators must be safety conscious and have the ability to stay alert for long periods of time. They must have good vision and hearing, as well as good communication, problem-solving, and customer service skills. Operators must complete extensive agency-specific training.

Heavy rail and subway operators must have a high school diploma or pass the general educational development (GED) exam. Operators should be familiar with rail or subway operations, policies, and procedures, as well as public transportation computer systems. 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. Workers are promoted by passing civil service exams from lower-level transit jobs.

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Job Growth and Wages
Percent Job Growth:  
5% - Slower than average
Typical Wages (National):  
Annual: $51,730 - $75,130    Hourly: $25 - $36

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

Physical/Medical/Health Requirements


Legal Requirements
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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:

5% - Slower than average
Find Jobs

Typical Wages:

Annual: $51,730 - $75,130

Hourly: $25 - $36