Path to Yardmaster

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

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Path to Yardmaster

Postby ewain » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:19 am

What is the career path I need to take in order to become a yard master? I am not employed in the railroad industry but i want to enter it so that one day i can become a yardmaster? Do i need to become an engineer first or do i just need to be a conductor?
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby supernova1972 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:07 am

You can get hired off the street to be a Yardmaster but it isn't easy. I was a conductor for about two and a half years before I became one. A couple of our guys were from the car shop, a couple engineers, couple engineers. Good safety and attendance records are a big plus. That being said, I've never heard of anyone who aspires to become a yardmaster who doesn't work for a railroad. I mean most people don't even know what one is. Why are you looking to become one?
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby ewain » Fri Feb 28, 2014 2:57 pm

Thank you for the response. I am trying to start a career in the railroad industry because i have a passionate interest in the railroad industry and strongly wish to become a part of it. I study the business as hobby. Managing a high traffic hump rail yard is my dream job and is what I'm shooting for. Can you recommend any typical entry level jobs in operations or management that don't require a conductor or engineer certification? I have in mind east coast Class Ones like CSX and NS. Thanks!
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby mdr406 » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:16 pm

I am not sure about all railroads, but I know a few of them REQUIRE a Bachelors College Degree to get into any management position. College is ALWAYS a plus when going for any job, then experience, especially upper management.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby gp80mac » Fri Feb 28, 2014 8:57 pm

A lot of yardmasters (At least on my road) are pulled from the conductor ranks. Many don't have a 4 year degree. A bulletin goes out asking interested candidates to offer their names to the sup't, a test is taken, and then those selected start yardmaster training.

There's some places here that the yardmasters are non-agreement, and I don't know how the process works for them.

To the OP: you'll want to work in the yard as a conductor. Then you'll see what a yardmaster has to deal with, and gain the relevant experience to hopefully make a good one. Good luck.
Yep.....
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby trekker » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:36 am

ewain wrote:Thank you for the response. I am trying to start a career in the railroad industry because i have a passionate interest in the railroad industry and strongly wish to become a part of it. I study the business as hobby. Managing a high traffic hump rail yard is my dream job and is what I'm shooting for. Can you recommend any typical entry level jobs in operations or management that don't require a conductor or engineer certification? I have in mind east coast Class Ones like CSX and NS. Thanks!



[b]Just strange.
[/b]
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby supernova1972 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:48 pm

Yeah, I'm a yardmaster at a high volume hump yard and I don't know why you would want to lol. Hell most yardmasters don't want to be yardmasters lol. At CSX you apply just like any other job. An external could be hired but they'd be best to have experience with air traffic control or the like, same with dispatching. If you want to be a good yardmaster you need to be a conductor first or else you will never really know whats going on, how long to expect a move to take or how long it should take. We have a few that came from mechanical or being clerks and you can tell a difference from someone who has never had to figure out a switching move before. Not saying they can't do it, but they don't understand it. It doesn't require a degree. Its a first line supervisor role but not management, meaning you are a Union contract employee. You get the best of both worlds because you get the train crew bitching at you and management bitching at you at the same time, because to be a yardmaster you have to be company and craft at the same time.

If your dream is to call shots at a hump yard, then you need to be a terminal trainmaster or superintendent because even the best yardmaster has to comply with the dumbest trainmasters orders. They will bother you and second guess your moves every chance they get when they have no idea what's going on, and just as soon as you finally figure out your plan and what moves you want to make, the intercom will ring up with some stupid request that they insist you do first. Being a Yardmaster has it perks but don't kid yourself, it's one of the worst jobs on the railroad. I haven't been doing it for long but a lot of nights I would trade that warm tower to just be on the ground and say "ok boss double these two tracks to this track, will do."
Last edited by supernova1972 on Sun Mar 02, 2014 9:39 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby supernova1972 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 4:50 pm

mdr406 wrote:I am not sure about all railroads, but I know a few of them REQUIRE a Bachelors College Degree to get into any management position. College is ALWAYS a plus when going for any job, then experience, especially upper management.


CSX requires a Bachelor to be an intermodal manager but 3 years safety violation free in transportation is enough for transportation management. I've heard they are going to change that Associates for all managers but not the case yet.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby mdr406 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:01 pm

supernova1972 wrote:
mdr406 wrote:I am not sure about all railroads, but I know a few of them REQUIRE a Bachelors College Degree to get into any management position. College is ALWAYS a plus when going for any job, then experience, especially upper management.


CSX requires a Bachelor to be an intermodal manager but 3 years safety violation free in transportation is enough for transportation management. I've heard they are going to change that Associates for all managers but not the case yet.

That is interesting. I know that CSX did release some information in 2010, which stated that around just 56% of their management team had a college degree. They also stated that around 50% of their management team is promoted from within the company.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby mdr406 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:35 pm

CSX Trainmaster position currently posted until March 5, 2014 requirements:
Qualifications

Minimum Qualifications:
•Bachelors or higher degree from an accredited institution required
•1 or more years of experience required in Transportation, Logistics, Rail Operations, the Military, or Skilled Trades (building/construction, electrical, mechanical)
•Valid Drivers License required
•Must be able to legally work in both Canada and the United States

Equivalent Minimum Qualifications:
•High School diploma/GED or Associates degree from an accredited institution required
•3 or more years of experience required in Transportation, Logistics, Rail Operations, the Military, or Skilled Trades (building/construction, electrical, mechanical)
•Valid Drivers License required
•Must be able to legally work in both Canada and the United States

Preferred Qualifications
In addition to meeting the above qualifications, any of the following are preferred:
•Bachelors degree from an accredited institution in Supply Chain, Logistics, Transportation, Operations, or Business Administration
•1 or more years of supervisory experience in Transportation, Logistics, Rail Operations, the Military, or Skilled Trades (building/construction, electrical, mechanical)

Knowledge and Skills:
•Railroad industry knowledge
•Microsoft Office skills
•Mainframe systems skills
•Personal leadership skills
•Knowledge of CSX operating rules
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby Freddy » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:50 pm

Before the mid 90s on CSX supervisors were selected by management. That changed to where, in addition to union jobs being posted within your craft, management positions were also posted. Even though I was in signals if I wanted to take a shot at it I could have tried for any posted management job, but I'm of the opinion that you don't get in a car if you've never driven one. I had a supervisor who came straight out of MIT, the only time he'd been near a railroad track was when he went over one in his car. He turned out to be the best supervisor
I, or anyone else who worked with him, had ever had. He was good because he listened to his people and got the tools and materials that made our jobs easier. He was also the only person I've ever met who had an actual photographic memory.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby supernova1972 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:10 am

[/quote]That is interesting. I know that CSX did release some information in 2010, which stated that around just 56% of their management team had a college degree. They also stated that around 50% of their management team is promoted from within the company.[/quote]

Yeah if you have a degree in anything and pass an interview they will hire you to be a manager. Last time I was at The REDI they had a new hire management class going on and one of the people was hired straight from college with a degree in African American studies, how that gives them the upper hand in railroad management.... I have no idea. The three years safety free is for internal candidates. I think externals have to have a degree or worked for another railroad for awhile.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby mdr406 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:47 pm

Yeah if you have a degree in anything and pass an interview they will hire you to be a manager. Last time I was at The REDI they had a new hire management class going on and one of the people was hired straight from college with a degree in African American studies, how that gives them the upper hand in railroad management.... I have no idea. The three years safety free is for internal candidates. I think externals have to have a degree or worked for another railroad for awhile.


Yeah, I know that general education requirements have broadened. For a degree in any subject, you have to complete what they all "general education curriculum." Below is some information from my college's website, which shows the vast spectrum of knowledge that you need before graduation:

Student learning across the curriculum is measured by the expected student learning outcomes for General Education. Through the General Education core requirements, all curricula are designed so that students demonstrate college-level competency in:
A.critical and creative thinking skills and problem-solving strategies;
B.writing;
C.oral communications;
D.quantitative analysis;
E.computer literacy and in the ability to work productively with information technology; and
F.awareness of ethics, cultural diversity, artistic expression, health and wellness issues, and the physical and social environment; and
G.information literacy including finding, evaluating and using information effectively.

General Education and Institutional Requirements:
The College defines general education as the portion of the curriculum devoted to the development of the skills, knowledge and abilities essential to all students, regardless of chosen majors. The course distribution is intended to ensure that students have mastered and demonstrated a familiarity with core knowledge basic to all college-level work.

General Education Requirements and Institutional Requirements and Institutional Requirements:

Arts and Humanities
•6 semester credit hours in the arts and humanities general education courses
•Courses must be from two different disciplines and have different course prefixes

Biological and Physical Sciences
•7-8 semester credit hours in biological and physical sciences general education courses
•One of the courses must be a laboratory science course

English Composition
•3 credits in Freshman Composition (EGL 101)

Mathematics
•3 semester credit hours in a mathematics general education course

Social and Behavioral Sciences
•6 semester credit hours in social and behavioral sciences general education courses
•Courses must be from two different disciplines and have different course prefixes

General Education Electives
•Additional general education courses to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours

Institutional Requirement
•3 additional credits in Composition and Literature (EGL 102) or Technical Writing (EGL 211)
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby supernova1972 » Mon Mar 03, 2014 7:58 am

mdr406 wrote:Yeah, I know that general education requirements have broadened. For a degree in any subject, you have to complete what they all "general education curriculum." Below is some information from my college's website, which shows the vast spectrum of knowledge that you need before graduation:

Student learning across the curriculum is measured by the expected student learning outcomes for General Education. Through the General Education core requirements, all curricula are designed so that students demonstrate college-level competency in:
A.critical and creative thinking skills and problem-solving strategies;
B.writing;
C.oral communications;
D.quantitative analysis;
E.computer literacy and in the ability to work productively with information technology; and
F.awareness of ethics, cultural diversity, artistic expression, health and wellness issues, and the physical and social environment; and
G.information literacy including finding, evaluating and using information effectively.

General Education and Institutional Requirements:
The College defines general education as the portion of the curriculum devoted to the development of the skills, knowledge and abilities essential to all students, regardless of chosen majors. The course distribution is intended to ensure that students have mastered and demonstrated a familiarity with core knowledge basic to all college-level work.

General Education Requirements and Institutional Requirements and Institutional Requirements:

Arts and Humanities
•6 semester credit hours in the arts and humanities general education courses
•Courses must be from two different disciplines and have different course prefixes

Biological and Physical Sciences
•7-8 semester credit hours in biological and physical sciences general education courses
•One of the courses must be a laboratory science course

English Composition
•3 credits in Freshman Composition (EGL 101)

Mathematics
•3 semester credit hours in a mathematics general education course

Social and Behavioral Sciences
•6 semester credit hours in social and behavioral sciences general education courses
•Courses must be from two different disciplines and have different course prefixes

General Education Electives
•Additional general education courses to complete a minimum of 30 semester hours

Institutional Requirement
•3 additional credits in Composition and Literature (EGL 102) or Technical Writing (EGL 211)


None of which qualify these people for railroad management. They turn out some good ones, but generally the off the street, straight from college managers truly are railroad management material, and I don't mean that in a good way.
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Re: Path to Yardmaster

Postby Gadfly » Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:41 am

:wink: :wink: :wink: The very best supervisor I had in Line of Road was an old conductor promoted to TM. He understood the job, understood what the employees were going thru and wasn't "too good" to roll up his sleeves and help! When I was called to work a job I had never "cubbed", it was Crew Caller. I didn't know sh** from shinola about the crew book and who had what seniority! :( This old TM stayed with me most of the night and helped me get thru that assignment!
Some of the crews would try to pull illegal moves and "claim out" on jobs they didnt have seniority for! "AAAAAAANK!," Mr Davis would cry, "You KNOW better than that! Don't you TRY that on my clerk now!" :P He knew that book by heart and who qualified for what job. 44 years on the railroad!

I don't know what I would done without him! If not for him, I'd have caused a time claim and got put on the ground for 15 days for an "innocent" mistake! Other TM's would have taken the opportunity to yell and scream at me. I think nothing beats experience!

GF
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