Railroad Safety Inspector: Training, Job Description & Salary

Read for an overview of the responsibilities, training requirements, and salary expectations for railroad safety inspectors. Learn the facts to determine if this is the career for you. Schools offering Public Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Railroad Safety Inspector Overview

Railroad safety inspectors work for the Federal Railroad Administration and are tasked with inspecting and monitoring the performance of railroad equipment to ensure its compliance with all applicable regulations. Apart from drafting reports of their findings and ensuring their requested modifications have been implemented, they may be called to testify in court for railroad-related cases. The table below is a summary of all relevant requirements and salary expectations.

Education Depends on position grade level
Area of Study Engineering, electronics, physics, industrial safety or related
Experience Prior experience in the railroad industry required
Skills Knowledge of railroad industry; safety and health principles; written communication; quality control
Median Hourly Wage (2019) $25.64*
Career Outlook (2016-2026) 6% growth**

Source: *PayScale.com, **U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Are the Education and Experience Requirements?

The education requirements for railroad safety inspectors vary depending on the position grade level. While most levels do not have a specific education requirement, some require the completion of a bachelor's degree. Outside of educational requirements, all railroad safety inspector positions require a background in the railroad industry, which could include knowledge of the safety and health principles, accident investigation techniques, or economic and operating aspects of railroad networks.

Are There Any Other Requirements?

Several other requirements apply for all railroad safety inspector positions. These include the possession of a valid state driver's license and the consent to random drug testing. In addition, all applicants must be United States citizens.

What Are the General Responsibilities?

Among other responsibilities, railroad safety inspectors are tasked with investigating complaints of compliance violations, inspecting railroad equipment for evidence of damage and recommending repairs. After the repairs are performed by the carrier, they are also tasked with inspecting their proper execution. Railroad safety inspectors also conduct investigations after railroad accidents to determine their potential causes and recommend improvements to prevent similar incidents in the future.

What Skills Are Beneficial?

Due to the responsibility to produce written reports of investigations and the need to communicate regulation violations, railroad safety inspectors must have excellent written and verbal communication skills. As regulations enforcers, they are also responsible for gaining the cooperation of carriers across the railroad industry, creating the need for excellent interpersonal skills. Due to the need to enforce regulations related to the mechanical operation of railroad equipment, they should also be well-versed on the technical operation and maintenance procedures of those systems.

What Is the Average Salary and Career Outlook for This Field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics includes railroad safety inspectors under the category for all transportation inspectors, projecting a growth in job opportunities of 6% between 2016 and 2026. The median annual salary for this category was estimated at $73,780 in 2018. PayScale.com tracks the income of railroad safety inspectors separately, estimating a median hourly salary of $25.64 in 2019. Glassdoor's estimate for the annual salary of railroad safety inspectors is comparable, calculating it inside a range between $71,000 and $77,000 in 2019.

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