Becoming an Engineer ?

GM&O Fan Dec 26, 2004

  1. GM&O Fan

    GM&O Fan TrainBoard Member

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    Jerry, or other Engineers here,

    I am curious on how a person who decides he is interested in becoming a Locomotive Engineer, goes about it these days. I mean, where do you get started ? Any particular training or classes you can go attend ?

    And yes, before you ask, I have always been interested in becoming an Engineer. Even after 13 years of Law Enforcement, and 2 years in EMS prior to that. Anyway, any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks, and Happy Holidays !
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  2. OC Engineer JD

    OC Engineer JD Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Pat,
    To become an Engineer, first, you would have to be hired as a conductor by a railroad. Railroads will hire applicants with no experence to be conductors and provide all the training. After passing a conductor course, and working as a conductor, the railroad will then promote conductors to engineers based on senority.
    You would then begain Engineers training, which usually consists of 6 weeks of classroom courses, learning rules, signals, airbrakes, all about the locomotives mechanical parts, etc.
    Then, you would get a student engineers card, and begain running trains under the close supervision of a qualified engineer. This could last for months, depending on your skill.
    When it is decided you are ready to run on your own, you will get a check ride with a Supervisior of Locomotive Engineers, who will monitor everything you do unassisted for an entire trip. If you perform perfectly, you will be issued your Engineers Certificate, and begain running on your own. If you don't get the Certificate on the first run, you will have two more try's to get it. If you don't pass on those trips, they can either send you back throught the next engineers classes, or leave you as an conductor.
    Different railroads have different rules for moving employees to the engineers position, but thats the general picture.
    I will say, that if you want to do it, start applying now, as railroads are looking for people now. About 80,000 new employees will be needed in the next 5 years.
    The best of luck if you decide to do it! :D

    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 25, 2008
  3. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    pat i started as a conductor for the ns out of decatur, il. and after 1 year of service you are eligible for engine service if there is a need for them on your district. i was sent to the ns' locomotive training center in georgia after 3 1/2 years on the ground and spent 1 month there learning the basics on locomotive and operation. you learn about the air brakes and operation, minor mechanichal work, of course the fra rules and inspection, and also learn on the simulator train handling with various trains and how each are different. then you go back on your district and "fire" for a certified engineer for a minimum of 6 months, before being eligible for mark-up. i got markep up and went immediate;y into a "regular" job on the peoria side because no one wanted the local which was where i had ran for the 3 years so it was cool with me, many get placed onto the extra board or as with many on the ns the are bumped back to conductor service. it seems the ns is setting up engineers like crazy now so that way if they have a vacancy as a engineer or conductor they can be filled, the bad thing is if you are 5 or 6 out and not planning on work until the next day and your phone rings for the first out train, you get popped to go.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  4. GM&O Fan

    GM&O Fan TrainBoard Member

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    Jerry and Mopac, Thanks for the replies !

    I live in the Mobile Alabama area, with the CSX, Norfolk Southern, BNSF, and CN, in operation. Of these to consider in my attempt to become an Engineer, what would you have to offer as advice ? You can email me if you would prefer. Thanks again !

    jpatgreen@mchsi.com
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  5. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    pat all will have equally good and bad aspects. i can tell you from experience the ns is very militant in thinking. i loved working there but the management on the other hand was something else. from what i have heard from other guys on the csx it is getting the same way. i am not too sure about the bn and the cn anymore but they used to be a little more ladi back. any railroad will be very strict and demanding on safety and safe work practice, and adherance to the rules is going to be a must. you must also look at the availability to promote to engineer in your area. if there are alot of people working extra boards and a younger group holding regular jobs it may be awhile before you can get promoted. i might suggest talking to some of the guys from each railroad there to see how they like it and what they think as far as your goals. i will tell you that with your law enforcement the railroads will like that. something you might look into also if no conductor jobs are available is the railroad police division for each, then move over as postions open, many times you will be able to retain seniority already established.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  6. GM&O Fan

    GM&O Fan TrainBoard Member

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    Mopac, Thanks for the advice !
    I take it, you are no longer in the railroad business ?
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  7. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    pat i was injured from a defective locomotive and subsequently fired/dismissed whatever they call it, back in 2001. oh well i am doing construction and garage doors for a company i bought into with my settlement.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  8. Colonel

    Colonel Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not to mention magnificant custom locomotive painting :D
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  9. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  10. GM&O Fan

    GM&O Fan TrainBoard Member

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    Mopac, I am very sorry to hear of your ordeal, and injury. I hope you are making out OK. I appreciate the advice you, and Jerry have given me.
    In light of your "ordeal", would you still suggest someone to seek a career with the railroad, or stay away ?
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  11. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    pat i loved the job just not the people i worked for. there are many who love it and many who hate it and look to get out every chance they can. all i can say is try it. i am doing fine now with the business. i guess the biggest question is one for you to ask yourself is, can you leave your family plans or events if you have children especially, such as baseball games, soccer, school functions, and holidays when the phone rings, also how about when it rings at 2 am and you didn't get to bed until 10 or 11. and it is very hard to make plans for anything because you might be 4 out but they decide to run 2 or 3 extras out or a deadhead or two. also they will promise you the moon when hired saying you will make x amount of money, that's all fine and dandy but if business is slow, you won't work and won't get paid, it is either feast or famine out there. when it is busy, you may not see your wife or kids for a week or two except in passing out the door, to work on your resttime everyday. i know this sounds like i am against it but the job is a very good one, many good benefits, rr retirement, great medical, and pretty good money. i would also ask how much do i like the steady pace and regular shift work with law enforcement, go home after 8-10 hours. hope this helps, you also can go to the hiring session and find out alot about the company, to put it mildly, when i got hired they started with 275 people in the session and by the time all questions were answered and tests were taken, there were only 50 left, and of those they hired 7.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  12. Gabriel

    Gabriel TrainBoard Member

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    Hey guys, I wanted to say thanks for the insite too. Im at a sort of a point where im not sure what I want to do. I have applied with UP and BNSF but havent gotten an interview yet, but keep trying. Several UP positions I applied for closed the 31st so keeping my fingers crossed. Liked you said, youll never know if you dont try so i'm gonna try. Thanks again
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  13. BnO_Hendo

    BnO_Hendo TrainBoard Member

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    I think I'll stick to my model railroad. The train crews are happy, and I heard that management (me) is easy to work with!
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  14. jasona

    jasona TrainBoard Member

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    I have tried to work for the railroad twice. First time was about 8 years ago with NS. I made it to the interview, but did not make it. The biggest issue I had was that they did not like where I lived, they said it was too far away. Even though I was willing to move, they still felt it was an issue.

    2nd time was about 3 months ago with BNSF. This was a total waste of time, no nothing from them.

    At this point I don't know what to do. Being single and 30, I would think I would have a fair chance, but I am not really sure if I want to do it anymore. I know I need to find a different job, since it will be a matter of time before my current job fades away.

    My current thought is to either get my blue card (I do have a way to do this), or go get my welding cert. The more I think about it, I should go the welding route and get my boiler cert and be done with it.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  15. chessie_md

    chessie_md TrainBoard Member

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    what are the requirements to become a conductor? like outside education (college, high school). Age? previous jobs?
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  16. jasona

    jasona TrainBoard Member

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    From my limited experience, you need to be a high school grad, college is preffered. Drug free (don't laugh, when I went to the NS seminar, they annouced this and several people got up and left). Previous job experience, anything railroad related is a plus, but I felt they were looking for blue collar guys. As for age, I think older is now better. I have heard that the new hire drop out rate is over 80%, so they figure older guys will tend to stay with it. NS considered me as a good canidate, and here is what I had for experience.

    High school grad, with a 2 year degree in Mechanical Engineering Technology. Work experience was 3.5 years factory/production work, and 2 additional years of general labor work and school. I was 24 at the time. They considered me an excellent canidate, and I made it to the interview. I had 2 strikes against me. I mentioned that I had worked at a museum, and the other (bigger) issue was that I lived 90 mins away. Even though I said I would move, they still held this against me. I never did get a call from them, maybe it was because I had a pretty poor attitude after I had been there for 12 hours.

    It's no longer an issue for me. Today I signed up for welding certification and I plan on getting an apprenticeship as a boilermaker.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  17. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I really have trouble understanding their wanting college grads. It's one thing to make a post-college career change, and decide to work for a RR.

    But if they have a belief anyone is attending a university for the express purpose of becoming an engineer or conductor, such would seem an incredible waste of that student's time and money.

    A person who paid attention through grade twelve in high school, should have all the skills needed by any railroad, for learning how to run a train.

    :rolleyes:

    Boxcab E50
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  18. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    boxcab it is because they are looking for management material, future trainmasters and such. move up the ranks by any means necessary in some cases. never mention being a railfan either. also driving citations/tickets are a big no no also.
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've seen enough "college"graduates, [​IMG] who I'd hire high schoolers over in an instant.....

    I really don't see a college requisite as any guarantee of ability. Now or future. [​IMG] Are they therefore expecting everyone to advance up the career ladder? Seems to me that most managers, yardmasters, trainmasters of a few decades ago, never attended college. But learned the job ground up. And the companies flourished.

    [​IMG]

    Boxcab E50
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008
  20. Mopac3092

    Mopac3092 TrainBoard Member

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    not anymore, no college no management qualifications. they don't care if you don't know what a boxcar looks like as long as you have a degree you can go straight to management. my trainmaster i had when i got hurt never switched a car in his life and yet he was telling everyone how they should do it. :mad: [​IMG]
    Copyright 2008 Jerry DeBene
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 31, 2008

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