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Railway Car Technician

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

  • 7314: Railway Carmen/women

2006 NOC-S

  • H414: Railway Carmen/women

2011 NOC

  • 7314: Railway carmen/women

2016 NOC

  • 7314: Railway carmen/women

2021 NOC

  • 72403: Railway carmen/women

2023 OaSIS

  • 72403.00: Railway carmen/women
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Railway car technicians may work on freight cars, passenger 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 shoes, wheels, bearings, ladders, couplers, and doors)
  • Record information about defects, repairs, and time required for repairs

Railway car technicians may make minor or in-train repairs in rail yards or on repair tracks. If major repairs are needed, they send rail cars to repair shops. Sometimes cars derail. 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 shop sketches and instruction manuals
  • Repair, fabricate, and install steel
  • Repair and install airbrake control valves, bearings, air brake components, and piping
  • Use test gauges

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 24, 2023
  • 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 de-rail, they must travel to the site of the derailment.

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

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Railway car technicians need:

  • Mechanical skills
  • Math skills
  • The ability to do electrical work, welding, and steel fabrication
  • Fine motor skills
  • Vision and hearing
  • Communication and interaction skills
  • Time-management skills
  • Independence

They should enjoy:

  • Using tools, equipment, and machinery to perform precise tasks
  • Having clear rules and organized methods for their work
  • Being able to troubleshoot problems
Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 24, 2023
  • 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 apprenticeship positions may need to:

  • Write aptitude tests that assess their mechanical and mathematical skills and their ability to follow instructions
  • Take a medical examination
  • Pass a performance test

Welding or metal fabrication experience is a definite asset, as is the ability to read diagrams. Repairs often involve torch work, so 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 industry rules and regulations. These are issued each year regarding repair techniques.

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 24, 2023
  • 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 Industrial Mechanic (Millwright), Welder, and Metal Fabricator (Fitter) certification profiles.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 24, 2023

Railway car technicians work for:

  • Railway companies
  • Railcar manufacturing companies
  • Private railway car owners (companies that own their own railcars, such as grain producers or oilfield related companies)

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.

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 7314: Railway carmen/women occupational group, 93.0% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 7314: Railway carmen/women occupational group is expected to have an above-average annual growth of 5.1% from 2021 to 2025. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 11 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: 2021-2025 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

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

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

Updated Mar 24, 2023. 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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