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New Member
I am seriously considering takigng a railroad conductor course at george brown college or BCIT.

I would like some genuine advise :

1) Are there lots of jobs as a railroad conductor in Canada? and how long does it take for you to get hired?

2)After how many months/years can you be a locomotive engineer.

3)Can I get into railroad conducting without taking the railroad conductor course at community college?

4)Will the community college place me directly in the job?

Note : I already have a mech engineering technology degree. But economy is crap ! pays are not soo good... Whats the point of earning degrees and not even getting paid that doesnt save for your family.


Conductor, CN Rail
You don't need to go to school to hire on with a railway. I've heard that CP does prefer people that have taken the conductor course, but keep looking and apply when you see an opening.

I hired on with CN 4.5 years ago and started training as a Locomotive Engineer in August. Tomorrow will be my qualifying run. So essentially they will start training engineers when the demand is high.


New Member
Thanks for your reply, but I want to know is, how many jobs are available for the railway conductors. Do they have a lot of demands as most colleges are putting it on their website that 70% of crew is facing retirements.

Secondly, Some canada government career sites are saying that careers in railway roads conductor is limited because railways are hiring new better equipments which will make the role of conductors obsolete !

so i want to know... what is the demand for railway conductors in Canada, only CANADA , not USA.


New Member
Although it is true technology has replaced people, Examples: Remote Controlled Locomotive Switching, and losing the caboose many years ago in exchange for FRED, I'm sure the overall outlook for Train-service positions (Conductor, Switchmen, and Engineers) Still will be quite good going forward in the decades to come. It is true, the Baby boomers are starting to retire, and they make up a huge swath of railroad employees.

Being a Conductor is a great job, with many benefits. It can be quite enjoyable and a person can make a decent living and look forward to a good benefit package. Assuming you're on a Class 1. I can't speak to short-lines and other railways.

I'm an Airline Pilot now, but I worked as a Conductor on the UPRR and the BNSF before I grew wings:rolleyes:. Believe it or not - I kick myself often for bailing from the RR to be a pilot. I just had this flying bug. Well this airline industry doesn't take care of me nearly as well as the RR did.

I remember thinking how nice it was to be in out of the rain, the first time it poured and I sat comfortably in my Cockpit. Oh I thought I'd made a good move. If I had stayed with the UP - I'd be a road engineer or conductor by now on a 200 mile + run, and no - I'd rarely get rained on sitting inside the cab of those big purring and spitting beasts. I miss it. And guess what? i made more money as a conductor too.

Any career move has risk - getting on with a big Railroad like the CN is going to have much less risk than 90% of any other choice you can think of. And you should advance in seniority nicely with the looming retirements.

Hope this helps
Nick :)


New Member
I to am fascinated with flying. Infact anything that has to do with transportation - Marin-Air and Rail , except cars. So at what age did you go for pilot training. Theres a school here and they train upto CPL and not sure if airlines hire with CPL.

I had applied for conductor positions but application is still in "Under Review"...



New Member
I was 31 years old when I left the Railroad for the Airlines. I never looked back until recently when after nearly 10 years - I've not advanced much at all as a Pilot, and am actually going backward now. I will lose Captain this summer and must return to the First Officer position. Massive cut backs at our company. If I'd stayed on the railroad - i'd be in a much better situation. I still don't regret it though, because I met my wife in flight training, and we have two beautiful children now:)

Good luck on the application - I hope you get called for an interview. If you get an invitation, talk about safety, how it relates to saving lives, and company profitability... Don't rant on and on but mention stuff. "I think safety should be the number one goal of any railroad employee. Not only do I want to go home at night and see my family, but I want my co-workers to be able to do the same. A person who doesn't take safety seriously is not only a danger to himself and others, but is a liability to company profitability which affects the long term security of us all. If they ask who is responsible for "your" safety... The answer is YOU ARE. Don't talk about your love of trains since you were a small boy - it will NOT get you the job and probably lose it for you. They want to know you're going to be a professional who will learn and advance. Let them know you are accustomed to shift work, and that you've always taken a disciplined approach to managing fatigue and getting appropriate rest on your off time. If you've ever had HAZMAT training, talk a little about that. SMILE!!! Be good nature and have a sense of humor, but don't tell any jokes. If something is funny, don't be afraid to laugh. WEAR a SHIRT and TIE. (not a suit) A pair of slacks, nice,shoes, belt, nice shirt, and tie. you will be the only one among 300 guys who do it. I've successfully interviewed three times and was offered the job 3 times from the Railroads. Union Pacific Diesel Electrician (turned it down later to go after a conductor spot) Union Pacific Conductor. BNSF Conductor. I know what I'm talking about. If the fact that you're dressed nicely is brought up in the interview as a concern that you dont' know what kind of job you're getting into. State clearly that you do know what the job is, but that you respect the hiring process, and just wanted to show that. Thank them earnestly at the end of the interview, and look them right in the eye and say: "I've enjoyed myself today; I hope you'll seriously consider me for this position, I very much look forward to receiving a call from you." Don't forget to SMILE - but be natural about it. YOU DO ALL THIS, AND IF YOUR RECORD IS CLEAN you will get the job.

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New Member
Hello Nick,
I want to know that what license did you take to get an entry into the airlines. Here there is a school that trains upto the CPL with 250 hours with Multi-engine, IFR everything. From there what do I have to do ? Do I need to take special ATPL training or Type-ratings and how much it costs. Is degree a requirement?

I know this is a railroad forum, I am a big fan of transportation rails..but before rails I like ships and planes.

Imagine navigating an aircraft .... using all the SID, FMCs programming and waypoints ! .... isnt that cool ? Theres a lot of mental skills to it. The samething goes in marine. Imagine navigating a huge ocean vessel into ports, theres a lot of skill into it. On the contrary trains just run on fixed tracks so theres really not much to do, not much of a challenge. .. but I still do like trains, I see trains as a means of getting away into nature and country side and the huge engines they are all awesome.

Id prefer you stick with the airlines even if ur first officer .... Pilots get more respect than locomotive engineers.


Lol...I went the opposite route. I've been an Air Force Flight Engineer for the last 18 years, and I'm transitioning to conductor in May with BNSF.


New Member
Mr Singh,

Ok... I confess up front I made fun of you a little bit, but your last response prompted an article on my new blog about the differences between Airline Pilot's and Railroaders. Don't be mad at me, but your notions couldn't be farther from the truth. Please take a look at my article - you've got broad shoulders I know you can take it : ) In full disclosure I took some literary liberties and embellished our conversation for effect. In truth you're not the first person to share with me the misconception, so my article is a hybrid of yours and other conversations.

Mod's I hope you will allow this link.
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The Count

New Member
Yeh dude you obviously don't know about railroading, its a lot more than trains goin to a place and coming back.

Theres the dispatchers timing every train against every train so they don't hit each other, the yards got classification tracks to make a train into another train. We could go on for years, the books upon books upon books upon books upon books they gotta read to keep up with the rules and everything, you read up on railroad termonology and see how "easy" you think runnin the railroad is.


New Member
Today finally I had a conductor interview with CN. Everything went well. The HR girls were hot !

I have some questions which they were able to answer. After 7 weeks of training they put us on a yard assignment (home terminal). They told us that they can ask us to work in another terminals, like 100kms away from here, which would be considered home terminal. Let say i work in city A and they tell me to go look after trains in city b which is 150kms, do I get paid for the driving fuel or not?

Pete Sakes

New Member

Sulkair, that's a great blog! You really did a great job pointing out how people who do not work in either industry have no idea what it's really like. Neither job is glamorous. They are jobs, most of the time with horrible schedules and very little home time. I have a family member who is a first officer for a commuter airline. When I mention her, people say, "Wow, a pilot? That's awesome!" Then I mention that in her first year, she only made $22,000, and she still doesn't get paid much (I really don't know how much she makes now) after almost 7 years. There is no glory working in the airline industry anymore. I have a friend who has worked as a ramp service clerk for American Airlines for over 20 years, and he's now afraid that he will lose his job.
Mr. Singh, do not take offense to what Sulkair wrote. He tells the truth. I've worked in both industries, but I was not a pilot. Good luck to you with your CN application.


New Member
Mr Singh,

Ok... I confess up front I made fun of you a little bit, but your last response prompted an article on my new blog about the differences between Airline Pilot's and Railroaders. Don't be mad at me, but your notions couldn't be farther from the truth. Please take a look at my article - you've got broad shoulders I know you can take it : ) In full disclosure I took some literary liberties and embellished our conversation for effect. In truth you're not the first person to share with me the misconception, so my article is a hybrid of yours and other conversations.

Mod's I hope you will allow this link.

Nice little read, very interesting.


New Member
Cn hiring process

Hi there, any one knows about CN hiring process, as my medical is done one month ago and every thing was fine. Now my status online showing " Candidate Pool".
Today I got email from CN-HR that, Your status has not changed, you are still in candidate pool, we are currently not hiring. Once we receive permission to hire we will then review at the time".

Any idea whats going on.

Feedback will be much appreciated.

Edmonton- AB


New Member
Hello everyone. I am currently a senior in high school and I am seriously considering trying to get on at a railroad when I get out of school. I was wondering if it makes it easier to get on if I go to one of the schools for this or just try to get on by myself? My dream job is to be a locomotive engineer as that is what I have wanted to be since I was a little kid. I would like to try to get on at either UP or BNSF. Any feedback is appreciated. Thanks in advance.


Been Nothin' Since Frisco
I'd go do something else for awhile rather than go to work for the railroad right away. Work in a field where you can get some experience dealing with safety issues, but where you have some kind of freedom to be a kid and have fun. There's always time to get on as a conductor then put it all on the line to go to engine service (you lose your job if you don't pass the engine program, at least with BNSF, not sure about other railroads).

The young guys in my engine class had a hard time with it - not because the material was so difficult (to be fair it is a lot of material) - but the self-scheduling, the temptation to party instead of study, just the responsibility. In the end they all passed, but a few of them just barely made it.

Besides the life of being an engineer, which can be taxing enough as is, the life of a railroader isn't easy. Especially now, since the current hiring wave is past the beginning. You're going to hire into a terminal with a lot of new hires, all of whom have seniority on you. The guys in the first class BNSF hired in my area all easily hold the road now, while the guys just hired are on the furlough board now. Those in the middle work the switchman's extra board for peanuts and get forced to vacancies all the time.

It's just the way it is, I suppose. But if I wanted to get on with a railroad now, I would probably wait a few years until the next hiring wave. And I'd be at the front of the line.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
I suggest you get a college degree and/or learn a trade before seeking employment as an engineer or conductor. That way you will have something to fall back on should steady working hours on the railroad become too tenuous for the reasons stated above.


New Member
Question: About how much can a conductor expect to make annually? What is the average with overtime and whatnot? I currently am in the United Steelworkers making $23.22 per hour turning wrenches on Bradley Fighting Vehicles for BAE Systems but the company is anti-union and horrible to work for. I have my Bachelor's of Science in Technical Management-Logistics and I am working on my Master's of Science in Transportation Management but I am not sure I want to go management. Thinking about applying to Union Pacific but it says they only make $40k a year. I would like to think with overtime it is much more but is it really? is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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