USA Banner

Official US Government Icon

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure Site Icon

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

Railroad Safety Inspector Job Requirements Overview

There are five Railroad Safety Inspector occupational disciplines:

  • Hazardous Materials
  • Motive Power and Equipment
  • Operating Practices
  • Signals and Train Control
  • Track

The job of the Railroad Safety Inspector is to inspect for compliance with Federal laws, regulations, rules and standards and to conduct and report on accident investigations.  The Inspector writes reports of findings and seeks correction of unsafe conditions and may be called upon to testify as an expert witness in civil suits.  The demands of these jobs are many, requiring skill in evaluation, fact-finding, report writing; comprehension and application of technical and regulatory standards; the ability to gain the cooperation of individuals and organizations; and knowledge of methods used in installation, operation, maintenance or manufacturing of railroad equipment and systems.  

General Experience - Rating -Qualification Information

To qualify for a Railroad Safety Inspector position experience in the railroad industry is required.  There is no written test for this position.  Applicants are rated based on an evaluation of their experience, training and/or education described in the application.  All applicants must have progressively responsible railroad experience which demonstrates :

  • Broad knowledge of the railroad industry including economic and operating considerations and equipment;
  • Knowledge of the general safety and health principles and practices applicable to the railroad industry;
  • Knowledge of railroad accident investigation techniques; and
  • Skill in written and oral communication.

Where the Jobs Are

Railroad Safety Inspector positions are found in the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Department of Transportation, and are located throughout the continental United States.

Pay and Grade Level

A journeyman Railroad Safety Inspector is a Grade 12 under the General Schedule.  The pay for a Railroad Safety Inspector is based on the employee’s duty station location.  Pay tables can be found on the Office of Personnel Management’s website at:


Railroad Safety Inspectors travel frequently which requires being away from the official duty station for several consecutive nights. 

Motor Vehicle License

All Railroad Safety Inspectors are required to possess a valid state driver's license at all times while employed by the FRA in order to perform the duties of their positions.

Government Travel Card Requirement

Railroad Safety Inspectors must be able to obtain and retain a Government contractor-issued travel card to be used for official business as a condition of employment.  There is a required credit check as part of the pre-employment process.  Employees who do not retain their card during employment may be subject to removal from the Federal service.

Drug Testing

Railroad Safety Inspectors are subject to random drug testing.  The selectees for Railroad Safety Inspector positions will be required to submit to a urinalysis for illegal drug use prior to appointment unless presently employed in a U.S. Department of Transportation position which requires drug testing. Individuals with confirmed positive drug test results will be refused employment.  

Seniority Rights - Leaves of Absence - Re-employment Rights

The FRA has determined that seniority rights, leaves of absence, and reemployment rights from prior railroad employment generally constitute an actual or an appearance of a conflict of interest. New employees may be required to divest themselves of such rights immediately upon hire if these rights are determined to constitute an actual or appearance of a conflict of interest. If new employees are permitted to retain such rights, which is generally the case for Railroad Safety positions, the rights must be divested at the end of the one year probationary period which begins with the date of appointment. Divestiture is a requisite to continued employment with the Federal Railroad Administration. No waivers will be granted of the divestiture requirement.

All FRA employees (or spouses or minor children of FRA employees) are specifically prohibited from holding railroad stock (including shares of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. which owns 100% of BNSF), whether held outright, in an IRA, or in a 401(k) or other plan. Employees may hold a mutual fund which invests in railroad stocks, so long as the mutual fund does not invest more than 30% of its assets in such prohibited investments.  Employees having a prohibited financial interest must divest themselves of railroad stock within 90 days after their appointment to their positions. Neither the rule against holding railroad stock, nor the divestiture period, is in any way affected by the existence of re-employment rights which employees might have with railroad companies. Nor is there any monetary threshold for applicability of the rule against ownership of railroad stock; all dollar amounts are prohibited.

Railroad Safety Inspector's are required to complete a confidential financial disclosure report (Office of Government Ethics Form 450) within 30 days of hire, and then annually each year.