The Job of a Railway Yardmaster

Being a Yardmaster for a railroad company means being responsible for the way all personnel work together to make certain the railway functions the way it should.

This can include overseeing the way that train cars are coupled and uncoupled and moved around the train yard from track to track. Rail cars that need to be unloaded are moved to the areas they need to get to so they can be unloaded and reloaded again if necessary.

When any rail cars need repair work, it’s the yardmaster’s responsibility to ensure that the cars get to the repair area for the work to be completed by the mechanics. Most rail switching operations (moving cars from track to track) are carried out by remote computer. In some cases, the yardmaster is responsible for operating engines and moving trains around the large railway yard. It’s also the responsibility of the yardmaster to make sure that each train is configured the way it’s supposed to be for ease of loading and unloading of freight in the depot areas.

Yardmasters as Overseers

The yardmaster has a very important job to do, overseeing the way the train depot is managed. He’s responsible for the way that all personnel do their jobs and work together to make sure that each train gets organized according to various schedules and manifests of cargo. All yardmasters are fully knowledgeable of every aspect of rail operations. A valid commercial drivers license is usually required as many operations require the operation of large cargo vehicles as well as train engines.


Yardmasters usually earn up to $27.40 an hour, though this can vary depending on company and location of the work. Seniority can also impact earnings with senior yardmasters generally earning up to $34.55 an hour. Some of the best states to work as yardmasters include New Mexico ($33.77 an hour) and Mississippi ($31.95 an hour).

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