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The Beej

New Member
Hi all! Name is Brandon, and thought what better a place to try and gain some insight than a forum of RR guys. I've been in the military for the last 12yrs, the first 6 were active duty out of Little Rock, AR, and the last 6 have been in the Guard between KCMO and DFW. I'm currently a full time technician with the TX Air Guard as a C-130H Crew Chief or grease monkey if you will, for those that know about the military active or guard would conisder my current position pretty good, WG-12 Civilian/ MSgt or E-7 Military at 30yrs old.

Having done this job since 9/11 and all the deployments to the sand box, I find myself getting worn out with it, especially when you consider if it's not Afghanistan then it will be Africa, Iran or some other country. Our unit is on the BRAC to lose our current planes, however that has been put on hold for the time being. With that being said there is a ton of movement that is getting ready to open up within my unit that may allow me the chance to stop wrenching planes. I have a huge backgroud in Safety (both 6 Sigma and maintenance resource management)and IT, as well as a mechanical backgroud.

I have a couple of friends that left the same full time job, 1 for a Conductor slot with UP, and the other a Conductor for KCS. After talking with them I feel like it may be of some interest to me, and a nice change of pace. I went thru a hiring session with UP when I was back in KCMO in '06, and didn't make it past the first interview(must have said something wrong lol.) Anyways as a mechanic for AF I travel from time to time, and my up coming sand box trip (will make 10 in 12yrs) the being away from home is not an issue, a couple days here and there is nothing compared to 4-5months at a time.

So here's the questions if you are still reading this post.
1. If you were in my shoes, is the RR a good option?
2. I make around 60k a year depending on how many trips I take, is that possible in the first year as a Conductor?
3. I haven't fully decided wether or not I would stay a traditional in the guard to maintain a military retirement or if I would drop it.
4. I'm the only bread winner in the house ( wife and 2 kids) so I guess you could say in the end it all boils down to providing for my family, I think I could make more working the rail, but don't know.


Jack of no trades
1. Yes, the Major Class 1's are all listed on the GI Top 100 Employers list
2. Depends on what Railroad since its all by union agreements. My Dad retired from BNSF as a engineer and he was making upwards of 100k a year
3. If you choose to stay in the guard, I bet the railroads would work with you if you were being deployed.
4. If you can handle the inconvenient scheduling of the railroad, go for it. And with you military background, it should be no sweat.

Thanks for your service.

Tacoma Tom

New Member
I joined the Union pacific as a Conductor about 3 years out of the military and it was one of the worst jobs I ever had. Railroad life is somewhat good if you are a single guy with no family and no life to live. If you have a life and a purpose it sucks. You join with no seniority which means you get the worst shifts, with the worst work, in the worst yards, with the worst people. I can guarantee you won't have a weekend off for the first year or so. You can count on working every holiday including Christmas.

You are not going to come anywhere close to $60,000 even after many years. Your first year will probably be around $34,000. Your Union dues are typically 100 dollars a month. When I was in training it lasted 2 months and they paid you minimum wage. I was laid off several times. Sometimes it would be for a few weeks. Other times it was over a month or longer. All with out pay.

You are much better off working as a military contractor. Not too long after I left the railroad I got a job working for General dynamics as a diesel mechanic. I was making $1500 a week and I had weekends off. It was one of the easiest jobs I ever had.

The Beej

New Member
Thanks for the input. I won't lie I have it pretty easy as long as I can stick to wrenching my plane, it's all the extra duties I have on top of my wrenching job, toss on the normal bs of any job and it gets to be a pain.

I will prob be asked what is wrong with me when I type this, but all the info helps when trying to make a good choice career wise. I only work 4-10's Tues- Fri and if a holiday falls on a normal day off I get the day before off (this weekend was Fri.) So work week wise I have it pretty good. With that being said though, I've been looking and making sure my resume is up to speed since our unit is on the BRAC, I don't want to be caught with my pants down so to speak if it does indeed shut down. And with 2 of my buddies switching for the rail and telling me about it, it's sparked my interest.


Tower 55

Its DGNO. Not Dingo!
Are you out of JRB (Carswell)?

Go talk to ol' "Frisco" Joe Holton at Ft Worth Western Railroad in Hodge Yard, see whats happening there. Dallas, Garland & Northeastern is hiring for train service. Then there are the three Class 1s here in DFW; BNSF, UP, KCS.

The Beej

New Member
Yeah out of Carswell with the 136th AMXS. I did 6yrs at Little Rock AFB out of the 50th and 2 yrs out of St. Joe, MO with the 139th.

I'll have to check into the Western. I have a resume in right now with KCS for the Conductor posting in Wylie. 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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