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Career and Education Opportunities for Track Layers in Portland, Maine

There is a wide variety of career and education opportunities for track layers in the Portland, Maine area. The national trend for track layers sees this job pool growing by about 14.8% over the next eight years. In general, track layers lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines.

Track layers earn about $18 per hour or $38,780 annually on average in Maine and about $21 hourly or $44,220 annually on average nationally. Earnings for track layers are better than earnings in the general category of Paving in Maine and better than general Paving category earnings nationally.

There are twenty-three schools of higher education in the Portland area, including one within twenty-five miles of Portland where you can get a degree to start your career as a track layer. Given that the most common education level for track layers is a high school diploma or GED, it will take only a short time to learn to be a track layer if you already have a high school diploma.


Track Layer video from the State of New Jersey Dept. of Labor and Workforce Development

In general, track layers lay, repair, and maintain track for standard or narrow-gauge railroad equipment used in regular railroad service or in plant yards, quarries, sand and gravel pits, and mines. They also includes ballast cleaning machine operators and road bed tamping machine operators.

Track layers repair and adjust track switches, using wrenches and replacement parts. They also trim rails to specified lengths, using rail saws. Equally important, track layers have to operate track-wrench equipment to tighten or loosen bolts at joints that hold ends of rails together. They are often called upon to lubricate machines and fill hydraulic reservoirs to specified levels. They are expected to clean and make minor repairs to machines and equipment. Finally, track layers engage mechanisms that lay tracks or rails to specified gauges.

Every day, track layers are expected to be able to maintain precise control of objects and devices through a range of movements. They need to judge how far and close objects are from one another and themselves. It is also important that they lift, push and move large and heavy objects.

It is important for track layers to grind ends of new or worn rails to attain smooth joints, using portable grinders. They are often called upon to patrol assigned track sections so that damaged or broken track can be located and reported. They also operate single- or multiple-head spike driving equipment to drive spikes into ties and secure rails. They are sometimes expected to dress and reshape worn or damaged railroad switch points and frogs, using portable power grinders. Somewhat less frequently, track layers are also expected to turn wheels of machines, using lever controls, to modify guidelines for track alignments and grades, following specifications.

and string and attach wire-guidelines machine to rails so that tracks or rails can be aligned or leveled. And finally, they sometimes have to drive graders and ballast cleaning/spreading equipment to redistribute gravel and ballast between rails.

Like many other jobs, track layers must be reliable and be thorough and dependable.

Similar jobs with educational opportunities in Portland include:

  • Black Top Paver Operator. Operate equipment used for applying concrete, asphalt, or other materials to road beds, parking lots, or airport runways and taxiways, or equipment used for tamping gravel, dirt, or other materials. Includes concrete and asphalt paving machine operators, form tampers, tamping machine operators, and stone spreader operators.
  • Highway Maintenance Worker. Maintain highways, municipal and rural roads, airport runways, and rights-of-way. Duties include patching broken or eroded pavement, repairing guard rails, highway markers, and snow fences. May also mow or clear brush from along road or plow snow from roadway.


Southern Maine Community College - South Portland, ME

Southern Maine Community College, 2 Fort Road, South Portland, ME 04106-1698. Southern Maine Community College is a medium sized college located in South Portland, Maine. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs. It has 5,654 students and an admission rate of 68%. Southern Maine Community College has a one to two year program in Construction/Heavy Equipment/Earthmoving Equipment Operation which graduated one student in 2008.


Portland, Maine
Portland, Maine photo by Pauk

Portland is situated in Cumberland County, Maine. It has a population of over 62,561, which has shrunk by 2.6% over the last ten years. The cost of living index in Portland, 102, is above the national average. New single-family homes in Portland are priced at $164,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, twenty-three new homes were built in Portland, down from thirty-two the previous year.

The three most popular industries for women in Portland are health care, educational services, and finance and insurance. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, accommodation and food services, and construction. The average commute to work is about 19 minutes. More than 36.4% of Portland residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 13.0%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Portland is 6.3%, which is less than Maine's average of 7.6%. About 14.1% of Portland's residents are below the poverty line, which is worse than the state average.

The percentage of Portland residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 40.4%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. Mariners Church, Swedenborgian Church and Stroudwater Christian Church are among the churches located in Portland. The most prominent religious groups are the Catholic Church, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

Portland is home to the Cumberland Wharf and the Browns Wharf as well as Longfellow Square and Hadlock Field. Shopping centers in the area include Mill Creek Shopping Center, Monument Square Shopping Center and Portland East Shopping Center. Visitors to Portland can choose from Motel 6, Fairfield Inn Portland Airport and Ramada Limited Portland for temporary stays in the area.