Subway operators are responsible for operating underground or above-ground trains designed to transport passengers from one place to another, generally in crowded urban areas. Subway operators must watch for debris and people on the tracks, observe track signals, make announcements, control the vehicle's speed, open and close vehicle doors at scheduled stops, and communicate with dispatchers. They may also need to drive the train manually in the event of an emergency.
Subway Job Education Requirements
Subway operators must have at least a high school diploma to be considered for this position. Taking courses in mechanics, shop, and driver's education will help prepare you for a subway career. While there is no official post-secondary educational requirement to become a subway operator, many local transit organizations have their own training programs, which much be passed in order to become hired. In general, having good vision, a great mechanical aptitude, a clean driving record, and strong communication skills are all that's needed to become a trainee.
Subway Job Market
Like most transportation positions, subway operator jobs are expected to grow with the spread and development of urban areas. Since underground transit systems are limited to major cities, however, positions are only available in metro areas. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, New York, Maryland, California, Texas, and Florida have the highest level of employment for this occupation.
Subway Job Salary Information
The average hourly wage for subway and streetcar operators was $28.48 in 2014. That's an annual wage of just over $59,000 a year. Starting pay tends to be more around $40,000, but top earners bring home over $76,900 annually. Subway operators employed by the local or state government tend to earn higher wages than those employed by urban transit systems, with New York offering the highest wages.