Here's How to Become a Train Conductor (Professional Guide)

Here's how to become a train conductor. On long-distance trains, train conductors function as supervisors. They supervise the loading and unloading of cargo and/or passengers, as well as the onboard crew's actions. They keep passengers informed during the voyage by delivering announcements about forthcoming arrivals and schedule changes. They also make certain that all safety measures are followed.

how to become a train conductor

What is a train conductor/railroad conductor?

Railroad conductors work on trains and manage railway workers' everyday operations. A freight train conductor is also in charge of cargo loading and unloading. Working on trains that run over lengthy, national routes, as well as trains that run only locally or regionally, might be part of the employment.

Our trains are guarded by train conductors. A conductor is a member of a train crew who travels by train to various destinations, guaranteeing the safe delivery of freight trains to their destination. Conductors keep us going by switching cars, forming or breaking up trains in yards, or transferring cars between yards, sidings, or tracks.

What does a train conductor do?

This profession often necessitates the ability to do the following tasks:

  • Ensure that all passengers are transported safely, comfortably, and in a timely manner.
  • Passenger tickets are checked to verify they are on the correct train.
  • Taking money from passengers as they board the train
  • Providing assistance to passengers as required throughout the journey
  • Passengers are being notified of forthcoming pauses.
  • Following all elements of the train's operations in compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) regulations, including orders, signals, laws, and rules.
  • Reviewing and following dispatchers' and yardmasters' orders
  • Providing all crew members with critical travel and safety information
  • Conducting a train pre-check prior to departure
  • Inquiring about timetables, cargo lists, or changes with station staff
  • Keeping an eye on the rails for route indications and any obstacles
  • At all times, follow the laws, rules, and procedures that have been created.

Railroad conductors are in responsible of ensuring sure freight is loaded, unloaded, and properly accounted for aboard cargo trains. Conductors are in charge of ensuring a safe and orderly environment for passengers on passenger trains. This involves receiving tickets, accepting money from passengers who have not purchased tickets in advance, aiding passengers as needed, and notifying passengers of impending and scheduled stops.

Required training of a train conductor/railroad conductor

Employer-sponsored programs are frequently used to provide training for railroad employment. After graduating from high school and passing a drug test, you are eligible for entry-level employment. Consider obtaining a certificate or an associate's degree. Community colleges, typically in collaboration with local railways, provide programs in railroad operations, railroad conductor technology, and conductor training.

Community college programs explain your role as a conductor in ensuring a train's safe operation and your obligation to be attentive to changing conditions. Classroom learning is combined with internships that give hands-on experience. Railroad history, operation standards, and conductor service tasks can all be covered in your classes.

On-the-job training is typically provided by employers.

Job outlook for a train conductor/railroad conductor

In 2015, the Association of American Railways (AAR) estimated that freight railroads employed over 169,000 workers (www.aar.org). At the time, around 84 percent of employees working on Class I railways were unionized.

In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were roughly 91,100 railroad workers, with 42,360 of them being conductors and yardmasters. The BLS predicts a 2% drop in employment throughout the industry from 2018 to 2028, however, some railroad jobs can expand if passengers and companies use rail transit for travel and freight as a result of rising petroleum prices.

how to become a train conductor

Job duties and responsibilities

Your duty will focus on ensuring that each member of your train's crew completes their assigned tasks. You'll collaborate with the yardmaster and engineer to resolve any issues with other trains or track obstructions. You should notify the engineer of any technical issues and keep passengers informed of any modifications to the schedule.

Your responsibilities will be centered on passenger and cargo safety. As a conductor, your job is to keep track of the weight distribution in freight cars and inventory their contents. You'll collect tickets and work with the engineer to meet departure and arrival timetables on passenger trains.

Railroad conductor required skills

Job seekers should have the following railroad conductor skills:

  • Communication: In addition to being able to speak successfully with passengers, railroad conductors must be able to interact with other crew members.
  • Customer service skills: Conductors operating on passenger trains engage with clients who frequently have questions, problems, or want additional help. It is a crucial aspect of the work to be able to deal with passenger problems.
  • Physical stamina: Railroad conductors must be able to stand for long periods of time, often on a moving train that makes many stops and starts.
  • Good hearing and vision: To be aware of future stops or possible safety concerns, anybody operating on a train must be able to hear warning signs and read and identify signs.

Average salary

As of can 2018, the average salary for train conductors was $61,480, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Conductors working for municipal governments were paid an average of $59,560 at the time, while those in the rail transportation business were paid $62,350.

  • Median Annual Salary: $59,780 ($28.74/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $92,280 ($44.36/hour)
  • Bottom 10% Annual Salary: $41,690 ($20.04/hour)

How to become a train conductor

Here's how to become a train conductor:

Obtain a high school diploma

A high school diploma or GED is all that is required to become a train conductor. However, you should look for classes or workshops in electronics, mechanics, engineering, and communication skills while you're still in school. These abilities will help you prepare for certification and entry-level jobs.

Enroll in college/pass a certification course

When applying for a train conductor employment, passing a conductor certification course is now required. Conducting courses are available in community colleges and other institutions. Students take controlled examinations and receive recognition from the administration as a result of their affiliation with the FRA. Some railroad companies also provide certification courses prior to full employment.

In addition to qualification, people seeking work as conductors must follow drug and alcohol policies and fulfill vision and hearing standards. A background check is a final stage in this procedure once you've met all of the requirements.

Look for entry-level work

Start looking for entry-level jobs in the railroad sector. Look for jobs on the crew or at the station that offer the potential for growth. The more experience you have in entry-level railroad employment, the more likely you are to get hired as a conductor. It can take several years to advance in a company before a position as a conductor becomes available.

Obtain state licensure

Check with your company about any new license requirements, as obtaining them improves your resume's competitiveness when a job opportunity arises. Depending on the organization and the state of the sector, licensing requirements can fluctuate.

Related career paths

Instead of working as a conductor, you might want to seek a different train career in the railroad industry. As a locomotive engineer, for example, you would be in charge of long-distance passenger and/or freight train operations. Instead of working on the ground, you can operate as a signal or switch operator. Signal operators work beside railroad lines and in the train yards to install and maintain communication signals. Switch operators are in charge of the sections of railroad lines that govern which way a train travels. You'll almost always require a high school education for any of these careers.

how to become a train conductor

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author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is a Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW), NCDA Certified Career Counselor (CCC), and general career expert. Patrick has completed the NACE Coaching Certification Program (CCP). And has been published as a career expert on Forbes, Glassdoor, American Express, Reader's Digest, LiveCareer, Zety, Yahoo, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, SHRM.org, Process.st, FairyGodBoss, HRCI.org, St. Edwards University, NC State University, IBTimes.com, Thrive Global, TMCnet.com, Work It Daily, Workology, Career Guide, MyPerfectResume, College Career Life, The HR Digest, WorkWise, Career Cast, Elite Staffing, Women in HR, All About Careers, Upstart HR, The Street, Monster, The Ladders, Introvert Whisperer, and many more. Find him on LinkedIn.

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