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Career and Education Opportunities for Track Layers in Seattle, Washington

There are many career and education opportunities for track layers in the Seattle, Washington area. The national trend for track layers sees this job pool growing by about 14.8% over the next eight years. Track layers generally 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.

The average wage in the general category of Paving jobs is $23 per hour or $47,935 per year in Washington, and an average of $17 per hour or $34,722 per year nationwide.

There are sixty-five schools of higher education in the Seattle area, including one within twenty-five miles of Seattle 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, you can expect to spend only a short time training to become a track layer if you already have a high school diploma.

CAREER DESCRIPTION: Track Layer

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 Seattle 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.

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES: Track Layer Training

Bates Technical College - Tacoma, WA

Bates Technical College, 1101 S Yakima Ave, Tacoma, WA 98405. Bates Technical College is a medium sized college located in Tacoma, Washington. It is a public school with primarily 2-year programs and has 2,807 students. Bates Technical College has a less than one year program in Construction/Heavy Equipment/Earthmoving Equipment Operation which graduated seventy-nine students in 2008.

LOCATION INFORMATION: Seattle, Washington

Seattle, Washington
Seattle, Washington photo by Dschwen

Seattle is located in King County, Washington. It has a population of over 598,541, which has grown by 6.2% in the past ten years. The cost of living index in Seattle, 126, is far greater than the national average. New single-family homes in Seattle are valued at $206,700 on average, which is well below the state average. In 2008, five hundred ninety-five new homes were built in Seattle, down from seven hundred seventy-five the previous year.

The three big industries for women in Seattle are health care, professional, scientific, and technical services, and educational services. For men, it is professional, scientific, and technical services, construction, and educational services. The average commute to work is about 25 minutes. More than 47.2% of Seattle residents have a bachelor's degree, which is higher than the state average. The percentage of residents with a graduate degree, 17.3%, is higher than the state average.

The unemployment rate in Seattle is 7.8%, which is less than Washington's average of 8.7%.

The percentage of Seattle residents that are affiliated with a religious congregation, 37.3%, is less than the national average but more than the state average. The largest religious groups are the Catholic Church, the LDS (Mormon) Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Seattle is home to the Berth 5 and the Akli Point Lighthouse as well as Lincoln Park and Myrtle Edwards Park. Shopping centers in the area include Lake City Shopping Center, Westwood Village Shopping Center and Oak Tree Village Shopping Center. Visitors to Seattle can choose from A-1 Motel, Arlington Suites and Marriott Sea-Tac Airport for temporary stays in the area.