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Career profile Signal Technician

Also known as Signal and Communications Maintainer, Signal Inspector, Signal Maintainer, Signal Maintenance Technician, Signal System Testing Maintainer, Signal Technician, Signalman, Train Control Electronic Technician, Train Control Technician

Signal Technician

Also known as Signal and Communications Maintainer, Signal Inspector, Signal Maintainer

Interests Profile
  • Realistic
  • Conventional
  • Investigative
Pay Range
$47,130 - $96,990 (annual)
Required Skills
  • Troubleshooting
  • Equipment Maintenance
  • Repairing
Knowledge Areas
  • Transportation
  • Mechanical
  • Public Safety and Security
Core tasks
  • Inspect and test operation, mechanical parts, and circuitry of gate crossings, signals, and signal equipment such as interlocks and hotbox detectors.
  • Inspect electrical units of railroad grade crossing gates and repair loose bolts and defective electrical connections and parts.
  • Test and repair track circuits.
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What does a Signal Technician do?

Signal Technicians install, inspect, test, maintain, or repair electric gate crossings, signals, signal equipment, track switches, section lines, or intercommunications systems within a railroad system.

What kind of tasks does a Signal Technician perform regularly?

Signal Technicians are often responsible for overseeing or executing some or all of the following tasks:

  • Inspect and test operation, mechanical parts, and circuitry of gate crossings, signals, and signal equipment such as interlocks and hotbox detectors.
  • Inspect electrical units of railroad grade crossing gates and repair loose bolts and defective electrical connections and parts.
  • Test and repair track circuits.
  • Drive motor vehicles to job sites.
  • Install, inspect, maintain, and repair various railroad service equipment on the road or in the shop, including railroad signal systems.
  • Tighten loose bolts, using wrenches, and test circuits and connections by opening and closing gates.
  • Inspect switch-controlling mechanisms on trolley wires and in track beds, using hand tools and test equipment.
  • Replace defective wiring, broken lenses, or burned-out light bulbs.
  • Inspect, maintain, and replace batteries as needed.
  • Record and report information about mileage or track inspected, repairs performed, and equipment requiring replacement.
  • Lubricate moving parts on gate-crossing mechanisms and swinging signals.
  • Clean lenses of lamps with cloths and solvents.

The above responsibilities are specific to Signal Technicians. More generally, Signal Technicians are involved in several broader types of activities:

Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Materials
Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Repairing and Maintaining Mechanical Equipment
Servicing, repairing, adjusting, and testing machines, devices, moving parts, and equipment that operate primarily on the basis of mechanical (not electronic) principles.
Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards
Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
Getting Information
Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment
Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or watercraft.

What is a Signal Technician salary?

The median salary for a Signal Technician is $76,210, and the average salary is $75,970. Both the median and average roughly describe the middle of the Signal Technician salary range, but the average is more easily affected by extremely high or low salaries.

Many Signal Technicians earn significantly more or less than the average, due to several factors. About 10% of Signal Technicians earn less than $47,130 per year, 25% earn less than $65,270, 75% earn less than $84,390, and 90% earn less than $96,990.

Between the years of 2020 and 2030, the number of Signal Technicians is expected to change by 6.1%, and there should be roughly 700 open positions for Signal Technicians every year.

Median annual salary
$76,210
Typical salary range
$47,130 - $96,990
Projected growth (2020 - 2030)
6.1%

What personality traits are common among Signal Technicians?

Interests

Career interests describe a person's preferences for different types of working environments and activities. When a person's interest match the demands of an occupation, people are usually more engaged and satisfied in that role.

Compared to most occupations, those who work as a Signal Technician are usually higher in their Realistic interests.

Signal Technicians typically have very strong Realistic interests. Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.

Values

People differ in their values, or what is most important to them for building job satisfaction and fulfillment.

Compared to most people, those working as a Signal Technician tend to value Support, Independence, and Working Conditions.

Most importantly, Signal Technicians strongly value Support. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees.

Second, Signal Technicians moderately value Independence. Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions.

Lastly, Signal Technicians moderately value Working Conditions. Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions.

Psychological Demands

Each occupation brings its own set of psychological demands, which describe the characteristics necessary to perform the job well.

In order to perform their job successfully, people who work as Signal Technicians must consistently demonstrate qualities such as attention to detail, dependability, and self-control.

Below, you'll find a list of qualities typically required of Signal Technicians, ranked by importance:

Attention to Detail
Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
Dependability
Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
Self-Control
Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
Stress Tolerance
Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high-stress situations.
Integrity
Job requires being honest and ethical.

What education and training do Signal Technicians need?

Signal Technicians often have training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience, or an associate's degree.

Signal Technicians usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with this occupation.

Educational degrees among Signal Technicians

  • 13.1% did not complete high school or secondary school
  • 39.6% completed high school or secondary school
  • 26.6% completed some college coursework
  • 9.8% earned a Associate's degree
  • 9.3% earned a Bachelor's degree
  • 1.3% earned a Master's degree
  • 0.2% earned a doctorate or professional degree

Knowledge and expertise required by Signal Technicians

Signal Technicians may benefit from understanding of specialized subject areas, such as transportation, mechanical, or public safety and security knowledge.

The list below shows several areas in which most Signal Technicians might want to build proficiency, ranked by importance.

Transportation
Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Mechanical
Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security
Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Engineering and Technology
Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Telecommunications
Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.

Important Abilities needed by Signal Technicians

Signal Technicians must develop a particular set of abilities to perform their job well. Abilities are individual capacities that influence a person's information processing, sensory perception, motor coordination, and physical strength or endurance. Individuals may naturally have certain abilities without explicit training, but most abilities can be sharpened somewhat through practice.

For example, Signal Technicians need abilities such as problem sensitivity, control precision, and arm-hand steadiness in order to perform their job at a high level. The list below shows several important abilities for Signal Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Problem Sensitivity
The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing that there is a problem.
Control Precision
The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
Arm-Hand Steadiness
The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
Visualization
The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
Manual Dexterity
The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.

Critical Skills needed by Signal Technicians

Skills are developed capacities that enable people to function effectively in real-world settings. Unlike abilities, skills are typically easier to build through practice and experience. Skills influence effectiveness in areas such as learning, working with others, design, troubleshooting, and more.

Signal Technicians frequently use skills like troubleshooting, equipment maintenance, and repairing to perform their job effectively. The list below shows several critical skills for Signal Technicians, ranked by their relative importance.

Troubleshooting
Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
Equipment Maintenance
Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed.
Repairing
Repairing machines or systems using the needed tools.
Quality Control Analysis
Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
Critical Thinking
Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.

What is the source of this information?

The information provided on this page is adapted from data and descriptions published by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration under the CC BY 4.0 license. TraitLab has modified some information for ease of use and reading, and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment, and Training Administration has not approved, endorsed, or tested these modifications.

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