Rail-Track Laying and Maintenance Equipment Operators
SOC: 47-4061.00


Lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines. Includes ballast cleaning machine operators and railroad bed tamping machine operators.

National Salary Information:

Hourly Statistics:

Annual Statistics:

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data.

Employment Projections:

Employment (2014):
15,600 employed

Projected (2024):
17,000 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:

  • Ballast Cleaning Machine Operator
  • Emergency Service Restorer
  • Machine Operator
  • Oil Distributor Tender
  • Operator
  • Portable Grinding Machine Operator
  • Rail Maintenance Worker
  • Rail Track Layer
  • Rail Track Maintainer
  • Railroad Track Mechanic
  • Railway Equipment Operator
  • Section Gang
  • Section Hand
  • Section Laborer
  • Slab Lifting Supervisor
  • Stone Crusher Operator
  • Track Dresser
  • Track Equipment Operator (TEO)
  • Track Grinder Operator
  • Track Inspector
  • Track Laborer
  • Track Layer
  • Track Laying Equipment Operator
  • Track Laying Machine Operator
  • Track Machine Operator Repairer
  • Track Maintainer
  • Track Man
  • Track Mechanic
  • Track Moving Machine Operator
  • Track Repair Person
  • Track Repair Worker
  • Track Repairer
  • Track Service Person
  • Track Service Worker
  • Track Supervisor
  • Track Surfacing Machine Operator
  • Track Walker
  • Track Welder
  • Trackman
  • Trackwalker

  • 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
  • Operations Analysis
  • 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
  • Building and Construction
  • Mechanical
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • 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:

  • Patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported.
  • Clean tracks or clear ice or snow from tracks or switch boxes.
  • Repair or adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts.
  • Lubricate machines, change oil, or fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels.
  • Dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points or frogs, using portable power grinders.
  • Cut rails to specified lengths, using rail saws.
  • Raise rails, using hydraulic jacks, to allow for tie removal and replacement.
  • Adjust controls of machines that spread, shape, raise, level, or align track, according to specifications.
  • Drill holes through rails, tie plates, or fishplates for insertion of bolts or spikes, using power drills.
  • Grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders.
  • Operate track-wrench machines to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together.
  • Observe leveling indicator arms to verify levelness and alignment of tracks.
  • Operate single- or multiple-head spike driving machines to drive spikes into ties and secure rails.
  • Engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.
  • Clean or make minor repairs to machines or equipment.
  • Clean, grade, or level ballast on railroad tracks.
  • Drive graders, tamping machines, brooms, or ballast spreading machines to redistribute gravel or ballast between rails.
  • Operate single- or multiple-head spike pullers to pull old spikes from ties.
  • Drive vehicles that automatically move and lay tracks or rails over sections of track to be constructed, repaired, or maintained.
  • Turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to adjust guidelines for track alignments or grades, following specifications.
  • Spray ties, fishplates, or joints with oil to protect them from weathering.
  • Push controls to close grasping devices on track or rail sections so that they can be raised or moved.
  • String and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled.
  • Operate tie-adzing machines to cut ties and permit insertion of fishplates that hold rails.
  • Paint railroad signs, such as speed limits or gate-crossing warnings.
  • Weld sections of track together, such as switch points and frogs.

  • Tools & Technology:

  • Adjustable hand wrenches
  • Air drills
  • Air purifying respirators
  • Air-powered wrenches
  • Backhoes
  • Claw bars
  • Crowbars
  • Dollies
  • Dump trucks
  • Fall protection harnesses
  • Forklifts
  • Gas-powered wrenches
  • Global positioning system GPS receivers
  • Grading equipment
  • Grease guns
  • Handheld computers
  • Hard hats
  • Hi-rail vehicles
  • Hydraulic jacks
  • Jackhammers
  • Laptop computers
  • Light pickup trucks
  • Oxyacetylene torches
  • Pesticide sprayers
  • Picks
  • Pneumatic hammers
  • Portable track loading fixtures
  • Power grinders
  • Power washers
  • Precision files
  • Precision tape measures
  • Protective ear plugs
  • Rail benders
  • Rail drills
  • Rail profile grinders
  • Rail saws
  • Rail tongs
  • Rail-mounted cranes
  • Safety glasses
  • Safety gloves
  • Shielded arc welding tools
  • Shovels
  • Spike pullers
  • Tamping machines
  • Track chisels
  • Track-wrench machines
  • Tracked bulldozers
  • Vernier calipers
  • Weed cutters
  • Welders
  • Data entry software
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Timekeeping software

  • construction and extraction

    industry stats

    SOC: 47-0000

    Total Employed: 5,477,820

    Average Annual Salary: $47,580