Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators, and Hostlers
SOC: 53-4013.00


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

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
4,000 employed

Projected (2024):
4,100 employed

Projected growth (2014-2024)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 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.

Alternate Titles:

  • Car Barn Laborer
  • Car Mover
  • Car Repairman
  • Coal Tram Driver
  • Coal Trammer
  • Conductor
  • Diesel Dinkey Engineer
  • Diesel Dinkey Operator
  • Dinkey Driver
  • Dinkey Engine Operator
  • Dinkey Engineer
  • Dinkey Locomotive Engineer
  • Dinkey Locomotive Operator
  • Dinkey Motor Operator
  • Dinkey Operator
  • Dinkey Skinner
  • Dump Motor Operator
  • Dump Motorman
  • Duty Engineer
  • Engine Hostler
  • Engineer
  • Equipment Operator
  • Goat Driver
  • Haulage Engine Operator
  • Ingot Buggy Operator
  • Ingot Car Operator
  • Ingot Supervisor
  • Larriman
  • Larry Car Operator
  • Locomotive Engineer
  • Mine Motor Engineer
  • Mine Motor Operator
  • Rail Equipment Operator
  • Rail Switchman
  • Railcar Switcher
  • Railcar Switchman
  • Railroad Engineer
  • Slag Motor Operator
  • Switch Crew Supervisor
  • Switch Engineer
  • Switcher
  • Switchman
  • Train Operator
  • Transportation Specialist
  • Work Car Operator
  • Yard Engineer
  • Yard Hostler
  • Yard Motor Operator
  • Yard Switcher

  • Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed


    Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.


    These occupations usually require a high school diploma.

    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.

    Required Skills:

  • Reading Comprehension
  • Active Listening
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Mathematics
  • Critical Thinking
  • Active Learning
  • Learning Strategies
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Coordination
  • Persuasion
  • Negotiation
  • Instructing
  • Service Orientation
  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Technology Design
  • Equipment Selection
  • Installation
  • Operation Monitoring
  • Operation and Control
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Troubleshooting
  • Repairing
  • Quality Control Analysis
  • Judgment and Decision Making
  • Systems Analysis
  • Systems Evaluation
  • Time Management
  • Management of Financial Resources
  • Management of Material Resources
  • Management of Personnel Resources

  • Knowledge Used:

  • Administration and Management
  • Clerical
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Sales and Marketing
  • Customer and Personal Service
  • Personnel and Human Resources
  • Production and Processing
  • Computers and Electronics
  • Engineering and Technology
  • Design
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Geography
  • Medicine and Dentistry
  • Therapy and Counseling
  • Education and Training
  • English Language
  • Public Safety and Security
  • Law and Government
  • Telecommunications
  • Communications and Media
  • Transportation

  • 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.
  • Operate switching diesel engines to switch railroad cars, using remote controls.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Air brake hoses
  • Air pressure gauges
  • Automatic switches
  • Backout punches
  • Bumping posts
  • Cab signals
  • Capstan car pullers
  • Car-mounted derricks
  • Color light signals
  • Diagonal cut pliers
  • Dinkey engines
  • Flat cold chisels
  • Hand brakes
  • Hand wheels
  • Handheld sprayers
  • Hard hats
  • Hearing protection plugs
  • Hinged derailers
  • Hopper gate openers
  • Hot bearing detectors
  • Lanterns
  • Locking ratchet wrenches
  • Mobile radios
  • Multipurpose hammers
  • Oil pressure gauges
  • Personal computers
  • Portable derailers
  • Position signals
  • Protective glasses
  • Punch sets
  • Rail car stops
  • Rail chocks
  • Rail skids
  • Railcar stabilizing jacks
  • Rerailers
  • Retarders
  • Signal flags
  • Signal flares
  • Sliding derailers
  • Socket wrench sets
  • Steam pressure gauges
  • Steel-toed boots
  • Switching diesel engines
  • Switching locomotives
  • Tank car dome socket wrenches
  • Track switches
  • Utility knives
  • Water pressure gauges
  • Winch car pullers
  • Wire cleaning brushes
  • Wrench sets
  • Railcar inspection management software
  • Railyard inventory software
  • Railyard management software RMS
  • Web browser software

  • transportation and material moving

    industry stats

    SOC: 53-0000

    Total Employed: 9,536,610

    Average Annual Salary: $35,160