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Railroad Conductor Degree Program Information

Read about associate's degree programs for railroad conductors. Get information on required courses, continuing education options, job growth predictions and salary expectations.

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Essential Information

The railroad conductor associate degree program, though rarely available, is the most advanced degree program offered in this field. This 2-year program can be found at a few community colleges and technical/vocational schools.

Students in a railroad conductor associate degree program learn about railroad conducting as it pertains to both freight and passenger trains. This includes career-oriented training in personnel management, fare collection, weight distribution management, locomotive technology use and traffic monitoring. Students also take a few general courses in business office technology, composition and logic. Most programs include opportunities for hands-on field experience.

Educational Prerequisites

Railroad conductor degree programs are usually offered at 2-year technical and community colleges. Applicants are required to possess high school diplomas or the equivalent. Though not typically required for admission, prior education in computers, mathematics and physics can be helpful in this field.

Program Coursework

Associate degree programs for aspiring railroad conductors provide students with broad knowledge of the technical, legal and service aspects of the job. Common courses include the following:

  • Introductory railroad conductor service
  • Railroad safety and standards
  • Railroad operations fundamentals
  • General code of operating rules
  • Railroad conductor mechanical operations
  • U.S. railroad history
  • Railroad conductor field experience

Career Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were an estimated 40,800 jobs for railroad conductors and yardmasters in 2010; that number was expected to grow 5% from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). While increased demand for both freight and passenger rail was expected, the need for conductors was expected to be offset by increased automation in rail technology. In May 2012, railroad conductors and yardmasters had median hourly wages of $26.30, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Most new railroad conductors complete training programs offered by their employers. While locomotive engineers are federally required to hold licenses, railroad conductors are not. This is expected to change, however, because of recently enacted federal legislation. Future railroad conductor licensure may require passing a series of tests, similar to the process for locomotive engineers; this licensure process would test an individual's competence in areas including railroad operations knowledge, hearing and vision.

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