Railcar repairers service, maintain and repair a range of equipment, from railroad locomotives and related rolling vehicles, to streetcars, subway cars, and mine cars. They usually work for railroads, public and private transit companies, and railcar manufacturers. They perform routine maintenance on engines, as well as fuel, brake, and transmission systems to maximize performance and ensure safety. They often work with hydraulic systems, repairing fluid leaks and occasionally replacing components. They also diagnose electrical problems, disassemble and repair undercarriages and track assemblies, and sometimes weld frames and structural parts.
Employers usually look for candidates who are at least 18 years of age, in good physical condition, and who have an aptitude for mechanical work and problem-solving. Technicians need to be flexible, because they are constantly required to adapt to new technologies and to the needs of customers. They must also have the ability to read and interpret various types of complex service manuals.
In 2002, railcar repairers earned a median hourly wage of $18.78. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $12.07, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $23.76. In the rail transportation industry, which employs the most railcar repairers, the median hourly wage was $19.72.
Training and Education
Although many people become railcar repairers by completing on-the-job training, it is highly recommended that candidates obtain some kind of formal education because that is what employers prefer. Community colleges, trade schools, and vocational schools all offer formal training programs from 6-month certifications to 2-year associate degrees. Some tailor their programs to railcar repair. These types of programs provide graduates with knowledge of the latest technologies and the ability to interpret complex technical manuals.
Often, experienced employees will be sent by their employers to special training classes organized by manufacturers and vendors. In these classes, workers are given the chance to update their skills and familiarize themselves with the latest technology and repair techniques. You can check out a list of Diesel Mechanic Schools by clicking on this link.
In 2002, railcar repairers held about 15,000 jobs. They represent the smallest section of the 176,000 jobs in the heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians and mechanics category.
Between 2002 and 2012, the number of railcar repairers is expected to increase more slowly than the average. However, employers have reported difficulty locating and hiring employees with a formal education. This is because many young people with the relevant training opt for jobs that offer more openings and areas in which to work, such as automotive service technicians, diesel service technicians, or industrial machinery repairers. As a result, for those seeking jobs as railcar repairers, and who have formal education in this field, opportunity will be very good.