Cargo Handler Job Overview

Cargo Handlers who work on freight trains work completely different jobs than baggage handlers on passenger trains. At first glance, it may seem that the jobs are similar, because of the work involved, but this is not the case at all.

Freight train cargo handlers are responsible for getting the cargo shipments onto and out of each freight train car. This can mean handling crates, bags, boxes and other containers filled with freight with everything from dolly carts to bare arms. As you can imagine, smaller individuals who may have trouble staying upright in a strong wind probably won’t like this work.

It takes a strong body that can do the same heavy-lifting over and over to do the work of a cargo handler.

Responsibilities & Pay

Even with specialized lifting equipment such as hoists and dolly carts, the work is hard and needs to be done quickly so that the trains are able to stay on schedule.

Each train car needs to be carefully identified by its markings and filled with the cargo allotted for that specific car, In this way, the cargo handlers at the other end who will be unloading each car, can identify and match up the cargo contents to each customer. So, it’s not just strength that cargo handlers require; they also need good organizational skills.

Each group of cargo handlers has a supervisor who oversees the work they do and prioritizes each job so all the work gets done on time. Having a train that’s nearly ready to leave the station and being held up because the workers’ schedules weren’t organized properly is not something that railroad companies like to have happen.


Cargo handlers can earn $23,455 to $26,675 annually depending on the railroad company and the location of the work. Cargo Supervisors regularly earn $27,355 to $29,425 a year following the same criteria.

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