A switch operator is hired by a railroad company to maintain the operation of their switches and other elements of the signaling system, in order to ensure a smooth flow of traffic for the trains. Typically, a switch operator adjusts the settings on various switches located around the railroad tracks, in order to adjust the direction of trains as needed, and to provide an extra layer of control for the operations of that station. Switch operators rarely work in teams as the job is more open to solitary work.
Becoming a switch operator doesn’t take a degree higher than a high school diploma, though one can certainly benefit from some prior education related to railroad operations. An alert mindset and the ability to spot problems immediately are required, as even the smallest bit of problem in the operation of a railroad can be disastrous. Switch operators need to be communicative as well, in order to relay any problems to the main station as soon as they arise and keep things running smoothly.
Switch operators are paid moderately well on average, receiving between $32,000 – $45,000 per year. With regards to the job’s demands, this is considered a satisfying salary by most standards, though the job doesn’t offer much in the way of other bonuses and benefits. Additionally, switch operators have moderately good prospects for progressing further up their career ladder, which gives the job some attractiveness but in some places it’s still largely underappreciated.