Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

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

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Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby ALP46A 4662 » Fri Apr 21, 2017 4:41 pm

Hello all, I have been on the forum for quite awhile now and I would like to know the process of becoming a Locomotive Engineer for NJ Transit. Currently, I am in my senior year of high school, and I will be attending Rutgers in the fall as Biochemistry major as I plan to become a Cardiac Surgeon. However, my life goal has always been to become an engineer for NJ Transit, as I have spent large amounts of time admiring their trains since I was young child. Specifically, I wanted the Locomotive engineer in college years part time which might seem crazy as I am taking on a very difficult major.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby SlotCanyoneer » Sat Apr 22, 2017 8:07 pm

I am not specifically familiar with NJ Transit but I would imagine they have a website that you can apply for jobs on. However I would suggest finishing school first and THEN deciding on a career in the railroad if you want it. Most railroads require you to start out as a conductor on the spare board and only after working as a conductor for some time be promoted to locomotive engineer.The reason I say finish school first is that conductor and engineer positions require one to be on call 24/7 365 days a year. Also I've never heard of any railroad hiring part time for these positions. The grueling schedule of the RR probably would not be compatible with trying to finish a demanding college course.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby EM2000 » Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:01 pm

The position of Locomotive Engineer is a career, not a bucket list check off item.
Many of the passenger RR's will hire Locomotive Engineer's off the street, not requiring one to work in an entry level position at first.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby 8th Notch » Sun Apr 23, 2017 7:13 am

It's great that you want to go to college with hopes of becoming a surgeon however it would be a waste of time and money to get your degree only to come out and pursue a career with the R.R. Yes having something to fallback on is a plus however we are talking apples and oranges here with the 2 career paths. I've liked trains since I was young is not a valid reason to pursue a career as a locomotive engineer. What do you know about about being a locomotive engineer and provide me with more reasons why you want to be one? Until you do so my advice is to focus on school and becoming a cardiac surgeon.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby Acela150 » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:40 am

Working for the RR is not a Part Time job. Period. It's not like working at walmart where you can pick up a second part time job at target. You are on call 24/7/366. (Shout out to leap years) You will receive a call 2 hours before your report time. Although I believe Transit gives 3 hours. You are on the Extra Board until you have enough seniority to hold a regular schedule. Which can vary. It could be a few months or 15 years till you can hold a job. And yes 15 years on the extra board isn't uncommon. My personal suggestion is that since your in your senior year of High School, goto college and live a little bit and then decide what you would rather do as your career path, Throttle Jockey or a surgeon. I put a year in at NS and the youngest guy age wise was 18 and had just graduated High School 4 months before he hired. He won't be able to live his 20's like most folks in the 20's do. But he's such a buff he doesn't care, or so he says. Also when he's eligible to retire he will have had a minimum of 42 years of service. I hired at NS at 23. It doesn't bother me as much cause I don't drink or party. Part of working the Extra Board is being called off your rest. Which happens quite a bit. So for instance. You are off duty at 134am. You will get 8 hours of "rest". They can call you at 934am for a job that signs up at 1135am. Now I'm not sure if Transit has uninterrupted rest which is what I just used as an example. BUT if they don't have uninterrupted rest then it's a much different ball game. Example would be you're off duty at 134am. You get 8 hours "rest". Let's say an engineer marked off sick on short notice. They call you at 735am for his or her job that signs up at 935am. That is allowed well within the current FRA Hours of Service laws.

DISCLAIMER: I am not familiar with Transits Extra Board procedures and how they handle hours of service. I work at Septa currently and we are only given 8 hours of rest no matter how many hours you work. We are not given Deadhead time either. So if I have to drive to West Trenton from my home in the City it takes me an hour each way. So if I get off duty at 1230am I'd get home about 130am. My rest starts at 1230. Not 130. So I can get called at 630am for a job that signs up at 830am. So that would give me ballpark about 4 and a half hours of sleep. Which IMO is BS. How the Feds haven't updated the HOS laws is beyond me.

I hope that this gives you some insight to your decision.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby gp80mac » Mon Apr 24, 2017 5:57 am

ALP46A 4662 wrote:Hello all, I have been on the forum for quite awhile now and I would like to know the process of becoming a Locomotive Engineer for NJ Transit. Currently, I am in my senior year of high school, and I will be attending Rutgers in the fall as Biochemistry major as I plan to become a Cardiac Surgeon. However, my life goal has always been to become an engineer for NJ Transit, as I have spent large amounts of time admiring their trains since I was young child. Specifically, I wanted the Locomotive engineer in college years part time which might seem crazy as I am taking on a very difficult major.


Yes it is crazy. So are you. If your life goal is to be a locomotive engineer, then you're wasting your time and your (or someone's) money going to Rutgers. If I was smart enough to be a surgeon, there's no way I'd be a railroader. You better get your career ambitions in order and fast. Decide what you want to do. I really doubt that you will be able to half-ass a college degree in biochem if you are dreaming of being Johnny Railroader all the time (much less get through med school/residency and all that stuff).

Bottom line - working for a major railroad is a full time career. Not a part time gig you can do while in college for fun. And your idea of what the job is and what it is in reality are two different things. It's not like the songs and books. It is a tough career and lifestyle. I'm sure so is being a surgeon, but that is probably a lot more lucrative and gives you many more options in the long run.
Yep.....
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby EM2000 » Sat Apr 29, 2017 2:28 am

The passenger RR's who hire off the street, besides a level of proven aptitude and responsibility, will want college experience or better yet a degree. It's an excellent way to make a six figure.
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Re: Becoming NJ Transit Engineer

Postby Engineer Spike » Wed May 03, 2017 3:57 pm

I graduated from university before hiring out. I agree that you need time to live. Go to a few good parties at school, drink beer, and get laid. I decided to follow my interest in railroading, since I couldn't see sitting in an office for the next 40 years. The difference was that I came from a railroad family, and knew what I was taking on.

Both career paths take lots of sacrifice. Bachelor degree, medical school, and residency are all hard to get through. The benefit is a lucrative, and in demand career. The railroad doesn't take so much school, but it might take some time to get year round employment. Sometimes they over hire, based on the number of guys, who will reach retirement age. Sometimes these guys might decide not to go, due to personal reasons. Governor Christie may cut Transit's budget.

With this in mind, it would be advisable to have a backup skill set. I have my degree, a CDL, and food service experience. You may need this, even if you don't get cut. If you screw up, you get suspended.

On the other hand, part time work is hard to hold. As a young employee, you will be a spare, as mentioned. Sometimes, like summer vacation season will see you working lots. Best to save up, since there will be lean times too. You need to bridge the lean times, by living like a camel, who conserves water, since he doesn't know when he'll find more.

One more point is automation. Who knows when technology will advance to that point. You can't know if it will be here by 2069, when you would be eligible to retire. You know that we will always need doctors. Why not join a museum? That way you can cut people open all week, and play choo choo, on the weekend? If you do occupational medicine, you might be able to do the railroad, and medicine. We have a doctor, who heads our medical department. She deals with our fitness for duty, and advises us on good nutrition, and sleep habits. I lost hearing in one ear. The doctor got me special equipment, so I could still continue.
"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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