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Railway Car Technician

Railway car technicians inspect, test, maintain, repair, and fabricate railway passenger and freight car equipment.

Also Known As

Carman, Mechanic, Rail Car Mechanic / Technician, Service Technician

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Railway Carmen/women (7314) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Railway Carmen/women (H414) 
  • 2011 NOC: Railway carmen/women (7314) 
  • 2016 NOC: Railway carmen/women (7314) 
  • 2021 NOC: Railway carmen/women (72403) 
Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Railway Carmen/women

2006 NOC: 7314

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

Interest in precision working to test and adjust parts using test gauges and other test equipment


Interest in replacing damaged windows, repairing upholstery and repainting wood fixtures, and in performing and documenting routine maintenance


Interest in compiling information to repair defective and damaged metal and wood components, to repair and install railway car parts such as compressors, air valves, bearings, couplings, air cylinders and piping, and to repair and maintain electrical and electronic controls for propulsion and braking systems

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 

It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective, and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes for this NOC group is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Updated Mar 31, 2018

Railway car technicians may work on passenger cars, freight cars, or both. In general, they:

  • inspect rail cars coming into the rail yard (to identify defects and determine the extent of wear and damage)
  • test air brakes before trains leave the rail yard
  • repair or replace broken, defective, or worn car parts (such as brake parts, wheels, bearings, pistons, gears and steel parts, ladders, and doors)
  • record information about defects, repairs, and time required for repairs.

Railway car technicians often make minor repairs in rail yards or on repair tracks. If major repairs are needed, they send rail cars to repair shops. Sometimes cars come off the rails. When that happens, technicians work from repair trucks and use mobile cranes to return cars to the rails.

In rail repair shops, railway car technicians:

  • do scheduled maintenance and upgrades
  • work from blueprints, shop sketches, and instruction manuals
  • repair, fabricate, and install steel, or wood fittings
  • repair and install parts (such as air valves, bearings, air cylinders, and piping)
  • use test gauges to test and adjust parts
  • paint car exteriors and interiors.

Sometimes technicians repair a rail car belonging to a company other than their employer. In these cases, they must also do paperwork or computer work to invoice for the repair services.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Strength Required Lift up to 20 kg

Railway car technicians work on top of and under equipment. They often work in confined areas. They work indoors in shops and outdoors in all weather conditions. The work setting is often noisy, dusty, and dirty. They need to lift up to 20 kilograms.

Railway yards operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, technicians work shifts based on seniority. They may have to work some overtime. When cars come off tracks, they must travel to the site of the derailment.

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Railway car technicians need to possess:

  • mechanical skills
  • math skills
  • an interest in electrical work, welding, and steel fabrication
  • fine-motor skills
  • good vision and hearing
  • people skills
  • the ability to manage time well
  • the ability to work on their own.

They should enjoy:

  • using tools, equipment and machinery to perform precise tasks
  • having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • troubleshooting problems.
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Minimum Education High school diploma

Railway car technicians must successfully complete an internal 3- to 4-year apprenticeship program. This may be offered by railway companies. In British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario, where this trade is recognized, apprenticeship may be offered by provincially recognized training providers. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age. They must have a valid driver’s licence. They must also have a high school diploma or related technical training. Applicants for railway-car-technician apprentice positions may need to:

  • write aptitude tests that assess their ability to follow instructions and their mechanical and math abilities
  • take a medical examination
  • pass a performance test.

Welding or metal fabrication experience is a definite asset. The ability to read and create blueprint printouts and diagrams are also assets. Repairs often involve torch work. As a result, basic welding training is provided on the job.

Apprentices first attend classroom training programs. They then rotate jobs working with different journeyperson railway car technicians. They periodically return to the classroom for training in areas such as railway welding. Over time, they are given more responsibility.

Railway car technicians must keep up with new rules and regulations. These are issued each year regarding repair techniques and invoicing procedures.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2018
  • Certification Not Regulated

Certification is not required, as there is currently no legislation regulating this occupation. However, railway car technicians often perform duties that overlap with regulated occupations. Certification is needed to perform duties subject to regulation. To learn more, see the Millwright, Welder, and Metal Fabricator (Fitter) certification profiles.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Railway car technicians work for railway companies and private railway car owners. They may be represented by a union. Prospective apprentices are often recruited from among current employees.

Technicians may advance to become supervisors and managers. They may change employers. However, this position is unique to the rail industry. As a result, few railway car technicians transfer their skills to other industries.

Railway car technicians are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 7314: Railway carmen/women. In Alberta, 90% of people employed in this classification work in the Transportation and Warehousing [pdf] industry.

The employment outlook [pdf] in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events that affect overall employment (especially in the Transportation and Warehousing industry)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities that come up when people leave existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities that come up when new positions are created)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the 7314: Railway carmen/women occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 0% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 0 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2018

Railway car technicians earn from $29 to $38 an hour (2018 estimate).


Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Trades, Industrial and Related Training

Updated Mar 31, 2018. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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