thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

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thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby SackvilleStreet » Wed Oct 05, 2016 1:48 pm

I'll be brief for now but can provide more detail: Have been thinking for years about going to "railroad college," with the idea of working in yards/becoming a conductor. I'm motivated by 1) wanting a career change from an office job 2) better compensation than my office job 3) wanting to work outdoors.

I'm interested in your opinions on whether you think it's too late to me worthwhile and/or possible at my age, 42. I have done heavy physical labour in the past, in my twenties.

I'm in Ontario Canada so I would be looking to work for companies here.

And BTW, I'm female. :P

Please tell me what you think, thank you in advance.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby COEN77 » Thu Oct 06, 2016 7:30 am

It's never to late. "Railroad college" is a waste of time & money. Railroads will do all the new hire training seeing they want employees to do things their way.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby Engineer Spike » Fri Oct 07, 2016 10:01 pm

I agree that railroad college is a waste of resources. The main hurdle will be making yourself marketable to the railway. They might take a look at a guy who has an office job, and think, why does this guy want to give up 9-5, for 24-7, walking a mile long train at 0300. What hobby might you have that would show that toughness. There was a guy asking these same questions, who mentioned being a volunteer firefighter. That was a good leg up due to training, being on call, and dealing with potentially dangerous situations.

Age has nothing to do with being able to obtain the job. There are more and more older guys who start second careers. Give it a shot. My first paragraph was an indication of what they look for. Who really knows what rolls around in a HR guy's head. Maybe just having a steady position for all these years will be enough.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby SackvilleStreet » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:21 pm

Hi there and thank you so much for your replies, esp. your opinion wrt to rail school. Much appreciated. I did state at the end of my post that I am a woman, so interested in your opinion about that. I'll keep your comments in mind and think about just applying for some jobs.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby SackvilleStreet » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:24 pm

Engineer Spike wrote:I agree that railroad college is a waste of resources. The main hurdle will be making yourself marketable to the railway. They might take a look at a guy who has an office job, and think, why does this guy want to give up 9-5, for 24-7, walking a mile long train at 0300. What hobby might you have that would show that toughness.


Thanks for your reply Engineer Spike. I would like to think that my past and present experience working with horses, including on the backstretch of a racetrack, might convince someone -- all weather, work long hours, deal with a crisis when needed, work safely around heavy farm equipment, etc.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby SackvilleStreet » Tue Oct 11, 2016 12:37 pm

Meanwhile . . . . getting into the other threads on employment . . . glad that I found this forum, it's going to be useful as I think about all this. As you can tell, I came here "blind" and don't know what I am talking about . . . so am ready to LISTEN. Advice welcome!
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby dunee88 » Wed Oct 12, 2016 5:18 pm

Age 42? You are fine.if you are qualified, you're qualified. I've seen much older get hired. It's a good place to buy some time back and finish off.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Oct 13, 2016 12:40 pm

Being a woman could be a leg up. The industry is very male dominated, so having more women looks good to the government, as far as equal hiring goes.

Through my career, I have worked with many women. Lots of them are really good. Trying hard wins points with your crew no matter who you are. Go out and give it a shot.

I'll say the same thing as I do always. You will not have the best runs when new. After some time, it will improve you can bid a job which suits your personal schedule. Be cheap. You might work steady, and make lots of cash. Within weeks, things might get slow. This may lead to getting cut off. Just save so that you can supplement unemployment. There have been guys who saw the good pay, then made a big purchase, only to be cut. You might even get forced to another terminal, while your seniority is low. If you are cut off, you may have to bump into another terminal, which is also in your seniority district.
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby SackvilleStreet » Thu Oct 13, 2016 2:12 pm

Thanks again Engineer Spike for the advice. Obviously getting a job is the first hurdle haha and then I can deal with the rest. I will be sure to let you know how that goes. I don't have children which means that I can maybe be a bit more flexible than some others. I've been in the same industry for quite a while, but what I've heard here so far is very encouraging to me as I think about this career change. More advice welcome everyone. :P
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby Gadfly » Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:34 pm

SackvilleStreet wrote:Thanks again Engineer Spike for the advice. Obviously getting a job is the first hurdle haha and then I can deal with the rest. I will be sure to let you know how that goes. I don't have children which means that I can maybe be a bit more flexible than some others. I've been in the same industry for quite a while, but what I've heard here so far is very encouraging to me as I think about this career change. More advice welcome everyone. :P



Good luck. I'm retired from that exact career. And I certainly hope you ARE prepared for what's ahead. The crazy hours. Watching your cohorts with loads of seniority getting the better assignments and work days. The yelling Trainmasters and their militant attitude. Trudging thru a yard at 3 AM in some lonely yard, seemingly miles from the nearest soul, rain pouring down. And its Thanksgiving night, or Christmas Day. The terminal is deserted save the few unlucky souls like you who caught the worst gig off the Extra Board. The cut-offs, furloughs, abolishments, being forced to another terminal 70 miles away from home--maybe having to move far from friends and family. Its the railroad life! It IS what it is. Some, especially the rail buffs, filled with romantic notions of Casey Jones and a thrilling life of adventure, hire on, only to be shocked and disappointed at the reality. So you must be prepared for this; it IS a huge change in your life because railroading is unlike anything you will ever do again. It is a career, a commitment (to get thru it), and a lifestyle that will take hold of you like nothing else could. It is a culture, a language, a way of doing things. And once IN and committed, you will BE a railroader forever!

I survived it, retired from it (NS), loved it, hated it all at the same time. And I'm still a railroader at heart. :-) And if YOU are cut out for it, then I wish you the best! :-D But, then, too, think carefully if this is right for you. In any case, I wish you the best. For me, while I kinda miss it at times, the best view I can have are the tracks behind me as I move forward in life!

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Retired, NS clerk
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Re: thinking of career in rail: too late for me?

Postby Engineer Spike » Mon Oct 24, 2016 10:55 am

Look into passenger. The lifestyle is much better. The spareboard is easy to follow because all the jobs covered are scheduled, save a last minute sick call, or service disruption. Via, or GO might be good choices. I don't know, but have heard that they like experienced people from the large class 1 carriers, like CPR, or CNR.
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