A Young Person’s Guide to Transportation Jobs Part 20

A Young Person’s Guide to Transportation Jobs Part 20

10/23/2014 Umut Türker 5734 Times Read

You will be required to wear protective clothing and equipment, such as hearing protection, boots and possibly safety glasses; pass random testing for drugs and alcohol; and pass a medical examination that requires a one-hour cardiovascular and strength fitness test; and pass a background screening. In addition, when you work you must work safely to ensure that there are no accidents or injuries.


All of this has to be done with an eye toward a very open and broad work schedule. You may be called to work with only a two-hours’ notice. As with most or all government run, controlled or heavily regulated industries, however, seniority is very desirable. The longer you work at the position, the more freedom and flexibility you will be given. You can be promoted to engineer, based on seniority.


For all of this, you must be, at least, a high school graduate or have an equivalent achievement, be 18 years old, have a valid driver’s license, and have two or more years of college and/or work experience. Desirable characteristics--especially in view of the preceding--are to demonstrate that you can operate on a flexible work schedule, and to be able to operate or be familiar with heavy equipment.


Once you have been hired as a freight train conductor, you will have six weeks of training through the Railroad Education and Development Institute. The company will pay or reimburse you for travel, lodging and meals during this time. Afterwards, there will be an additional eight to twenty-two weeks of on-the-job training at the location where you will be assigned. You can then look forward to receiving $43,000 (on average) as a first-year salary. (Again, with seniority, there will be more advancement, flexibility and benefits in coming years).


Once as a freight conductor, the expectation is that you will have to supervise freight train crews and to coordinate switch engine crews. You will need to place the train cars efficiently and effectively in rail yards, industrial plants or other locations for ease in loading and unloading of the freight.


This, and all other actions, must be done in compliance with the rules, regulations, policies and procedures of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). You will need to review the latest instructions from dispatchers and yardmasters, and consult with the locomotive engineer and train crew. Similar information is obtained through the reception and transmission of information by radio and telephone, and the reading of bulletins, work orders and switch lists.

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From all of this, you will need to inspect all the equipment prior to the departure of the train; instruct and guide the train crews to couple and uncouple the train cars, as well as making minor repairs when and where necessary; and work with the customers to ensure the efficient and effective placement of the freight.