Train conductors work aboard a train, and oversee the daily operations of a train crew. Becoming a train conductor is a rewarding career that pays an above average salary, in addition to providing excellent benefits and an exceptional retirement program. Future increases in population, infrastructure, and freight are leading to a 5% projected growth of train conductor jobs through 2020.
The work schedule of a train conductor is physically, and mentally demanding. Train conductors do not have standard work hours. Due to the nature of freight being a 24/7/365 operation, an entry level train conductor is expected to always be on call and ready to report to work within two hours time.
To become a train conductor, you must possess a high school diploma or GED. General health, correctable vision, physical fitness, and ability to differentiate between colors are imperative to performing the duties of a train conductor.
Upon being hired, the railroad company will send you through their specific training program which includes a mixture of classroom time, and rail yard work. After successful completion of the company’s training program, new train conductors participate in up to 6 months of on the job training at their assigned work location.
While on the job, the duties of a train conductor are:
- Observe and implement all safety rules and regulations according to company policy, and Federal Railroad Administration standards
- Use radios and telephone to transmit information
- Inspect locomotive and rail cards prior to departure
- Operate locomotive equipment
- Ride moving cars
- Couple and uncouple cars, operate switches, perform maintenance on rail cars
Many Railroads require train conductors to enter engineering training after a few years on the job, due to increases in freight traffic, and retirements.
The average salary for a first year train conductor is approximately $44,000. After completing probationary periods, and achieving top pay rates according to union contracts, a train conductor with approximately three years on the job can expect to earn about $68,000.
Though the job of a train conductor is physically demanding, and requires working unconventional hours, it can prove be an extremely rewarding career.