Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators and Hostlers: Salary, Job Description, How To Become One, and Quiz

Stan T.Career, OverviewLeave a Comment

Job description

Rail Yard Engineers, Dinkey Operators and Hostlers drive switching or other locomotive or dinkey engines within railroad yard, industrial plant, quarry, construction project, or similar location.

  • 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.
Read more about what does a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler really do at work and what is it like being and working as one.

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Average salary
$54640 per year

Average hourly wage
$26 per hour

Rail Yard Engineers with little to no experience tend to make between $33280 and $42080 while the more experienced ones can earn over $63220 per year.

Top 5 paying states Hourly Annual
SC $35 $73,390
NY $35 $72,370
OK $34 $71,640
MA $29 $61,180
IN $28 $59,130

One of the easiest ways to increase your salary as a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler is to move to a higher paying state like SC. Right now, the highest paying states for Rail Yard Engineers are SC, NY, OK, MA and IN.

However, a higher pay at SC doesn’t guarantee that you will make more because the living expenses at SC might be twice as high than where you are currently at now.

Three other factors that can increase your salary as a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler is the degree you hold, the industry you work in, and lastly the company you work for.


Recommended degree level
No degree required

We asked other Rail Yard Engineers what degree they had when they got the job and most of them said they had a High School Diploma followed by a College Certificate.

Other than that, we also asked them what did they major in and here are the most popular majors that came up.

Railroad and Railway Transportation
Read more about how to become a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler and the degree, training and education you need.

Pros and Cons

Here are some of the pros and cons of being a Rail Yard Engineer, Dinkey Operator and Hostler.

Suitable for people who likes practical and hands-on work
Suitable for people who wants to work in a supportive work environment
This career is perfect for people who love to work outdoors.
It is easy to get into this career. Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is required for this career.
Not suitable for people who likes to work with designs
Salary is below average
Long working hours (More than 40 hours per week)

What is the job like

Job satisfaction

Is this job meaningful

61% of Rail Yard Engineers said they were satisfied with their job and 47% said they feel like their job is making other people’s lives better.

Is this right for me

Best personality for this career
The Builders and The Organizers

You can read more about these career personality types here.

People who are suitable for this job tends to like work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They like working with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery..

They also like following set procedures and routines. They like working with data and details more than with ideas.

Learn more about Rail Yard Engineers

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Related career information

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