Workin’ on the Railroad: Salaries of Rail Yard Engineers and Hostlers
© 2011 by Aurelio Locsin
Rail yard engineers and hostlers operate locomotives within the confines of a rail yard, such as for an industrial area or port. Engineers handle consists with cars, while hostlers operate yard locomotives without attached cars, for example, such as when driving them to and from maintenance and repair facilities. The 5,600 jobs for these positions are far smaller than the 40,750 available for standard locomotive engineers.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, rail yard engineers and hostlers earn a mean $18.18 per hour or $37,810 per year. The lowest earning 10 percent average $12.33 per hour or $25,640 per year, while the highest paid 10 percent receive a mean $26.89 per hour or $55,930 per year. This is less than the wages earned by locomotive engineers, which run a mean $24.46 per hour or $50,870 per year. It is also under the average
The following shows the biggest employers of rail yard engineers and hostlers.
- About 47 percent work for rail transportation companies such as Union Pacific and BNSF. Wages here average $19.97 per hour or $41,540 per year.
- Nearly 20 percent work in support activities for rail transportation to make mean salaries of $16.23 per hour or $33,750 per year.
- Almost 4 percent have jobs with iron and steel mills, and ferroalloy manufacturing. Mean wages run $21.46 per hour or $44,640 per year.
The highest paying industries for these professions are as follows:
- The federal government offers the best pay at a mean $23.22 per hour or $48,300 per year.
- Iron and steel mills, and ferroalloy manufacturers run second.
- The third best pay belongs to coal mining, which average $20.53 per hour or $42,700 per year.
The following states hold the most jobs for rail yard engineers and hostlers.
- Texas shows the greatest number of positions, with 480 making a mean $16.83 per hours or $35,000 per year.
- Michigan has 470 jobs at a mean $15.18 per hour or $31,570 per year.
- Illinois also has 470 jobs, but with higher averages of $18.16 per hour or $37,770 per year.
As for best paying employers, they are located in the following states:
- New Jersey has the best wages at a mean $21.89 per hour or $45,540.
- Alabama is close behind with an average of $21.69 per hour or $45,120 per year.
- Montana has mean pay at $21.37 per hour or $44,450 per year.
The following cities have the most jobs for rail yard engineers and hostlers:
- Chicago, Illinois, shows 350 positions at a mean $17.51 per hour or $36,420 per year.
- Detroit, Michigan, has 260 jobs at a mean $12.60 per hour or $26,210 per year.
- Houston, Texas, also has 260 jobs but with higher averages of $18.49 per hour or $38,450 per year.
The cities with the highest paying jobs are as follows:
- Birmingham, Alabama, shows a mean $24.36 per hour or $40,900 per year.
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, average $19.66 per hour or $40,900 per year.
- Houston, Texas, ranks third.