College or Railroad conductor?

General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.

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Re: College or Railroad conductor?

Postby Desertdweller » Mon Oct 14, 2013 4:58 pm

That is certainly an argument with two sides.

I once worked for a guy (not a railroad job) that people had warned me against working for, because he was such a "hard ass". Turned out he was one of the nicest people I had ever worked for. Why was he such a hardnose? Because he expected his employees to show up for work, and actually perform useful work while they were there.

That might seem pretty basic, but that actually is more than a lot of people can manage.

On the other hand, there are those employers who try to get by on the cheap whenever they can, especially when it comes to wages. I think that is the reason we have lost so any manufacturing jobs in this country. One thing about the railroad industry: operating jobs are not going to be outsourced overseas.

If there are 300,000 manufacturing jobs unfilled for lack of qualified workers, that is troubling. But it also shows that manufacturers do not value those jobs enough to train qualified workers. If they send those jobs to third-world countries, do they expect to find those qualified workers there? Or do they figure they can afford to train them because they pay them so poorly?

The railroads in this country are not afraid to spend money training people. That is why they are picky on who they hire. They do not want to make a big training investment in someone who won't stay with it. There is an advantage to a college education: not so much for what you've learned, but what it says about you: that you are willing to stick with something for the long term, and that you are willing to make a sizable investment in yourself.

I don't agree that employers would advertise for help, then come up with bogus excuses not to hire people. Employers need employees. They also need to profit from those employees. If they cannot afford to pay fair wages, they cannot afford to be in business.

Unfortunately for those in our business, there are some railroad operators who recognize that there are some non-railroaders who are strongly motivated to work in the industry, and are willing to do so for far-substandard pay and benefits. These outfits do not want to hire experienced railroaders: they would have to pay them accordingly. It is very difficult for such a situation to produce good railroaders, because very little effort is put into training. If good railroaders emerge from this situation, they will leave for better railroads. The rest generally get their fill of railroading and quit.

So if anyone reading this is contemplating a first railroad job, take the time to find out if the company is willing to make a real investment in your training. The railroad does not have to be a Class One to offer this. Employees are expected to respect their railroads. Railroads should return that respect.

Les
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Re: College or Railroad conductor?

Postby The RR Authority » Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:23 pm

Depends on the degree.
Liberal Arts degree in your future = choose the railroad.

Degree in business, engineering, science, forestry, agriculture, etc. = forget the railroad
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Re: College or Railroad conductor?

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Aug 21, 2014 10:51 pm

I agree with desertdweller's thought about a college education being a sign of long term focus. When I hired out at BNSF, there were there were mainly college grads, and veterans/former military. Both show the kind of commitment the railroad needs.

My personality is not the nerd in a cubicle type. This is one of the reasons I made the choice. It helped to have an uncle who had retired from a railroad career. He had a comfortable retirement, and pointed out many of the same benefits which have been expressed in this thread.

He was right. Yes I have been furloughed. I have been pissed off too, like when my conductor ran me through a switch. I was on the opposite end of a cut of about ten cars. I got some brownie points because my xray vision wasn't working. Still, after all these years, I finally hold a run were $100K+ is not hard to do. We can live comfortably, even though I'm only home 1 out of 3 nights.

Point is, now you have the facts. It's up to you to pull the trigger or not.
"Welcome all ye who enter; the show that never ends. Tingfield Sperminal Railway." (Graffiti on the entry to Mohawk Yard Office)
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