Career Profile: Railway Car Technician
Working with trains might seem like a job from at least a century ago, before cars became common. However, trains of various kinds are still important, and they still need maintenance and repairs. Becoming a railway car technician can be a good job for people who enjoy solving mechanical or structural problems and helping people get where they need to go.
Trains are not nearly as common as they once were, but they are still important. Grain still goes by train from where it is grown to the cities or other places for processing, and animals like cattle or horses often go by train, as well. People sometimes use trains for travelling from one place to another, and some cities also have streetcars which have the same kinds of repair problems as train cars have.
Many things can go wrong on trains or streetcars, and railway car technicians can deal with most of them. Parts can break or become worn out, and then railway car technicians have to fix or replace them. Sometimes they do general maintenance like painting or cleaning, but much of their work involves finding problems, deciding what to do, and completing the repairs. They might work inside or outside the cars, and they should be prepared for all kinds of weather. Being able to lift up to twenty kilograms is also important, since many railway car parts can be heavy. People in this field need good vision, hearing, and manual dexterity to be able to do their work.
For many railway car technicians, a combination of work experience and education is necessary. Some people learn on the job or through apprenticeships, but it can be a good idea to take courses in mathematics, science, and physics. Some provinces require apprenticeships, such as in Alberta and Manitoba. These apprenticeships can be three or four years long, and they require both classroom work and practical experience. Exams that technicians take at the end of their studies test their knowledge to make sure that they have learned what they need to know.
Like with many mechanical jobs, becoming a railway car technician requires learning many new things. People in this field need to know how to use power, pneumatic, and hydraulic tools and equipment, as well as other procedures that they might need for specific jobs. They might need to learn about upholstery, air valves, windows, and more. For many railway car technicians, learning is a process that can take their whole careers.
Most areas of Canada have trains or streetcars, and career prospects for railway car technicians are normally quite good. Wages can start quite low, but skilled technicians can easily earn over $30 an hour, and probably more. Working conditions can be good in some cases, but technicians often have to work outside in cold or rainy weather. Being a railway car technician can be physically demanding, but it can be a good long- term job as long as people have the strength for it. You might want to think about pursuing this career.
ALIS. “Railway Car Technician.” https://alis.alberta.ca/occinfo/occupations-in-alberta/occupation-profiles/railway-car-technician/.
Apprentice Search.com. “What Does a Railway Car Technician Do?” http://www.apprenticesearch.com/AboutTrades/GetTradeDetails?tradeId=258&TradeName=railway-car-technician.
ITA. “Railway Car Technician.” http://www.itabc.ca/program/railway-car-technician.
Province of Manitoba. “Railway Car Technician.” https://www.gov.mb.ca/wd/apprenticeship/discover/mbtrades/railwaycartech.html.