Been going through a late mid life crisis here. Hating my present job. I got to thinking about doing something else in my last several years. of work.
I ran across this:
Granted it is Norfolk Southern freight but I imagine Amtrak has a similar pay scale for engineer? Is it about the same?
$90K starting with 17% bonus??? Wow! Where did I do wrong? I don't make near that and I am also a trained professional. Admittedly I don't know much about the details of a being a conductor or engineer but it has to be better than what I do now.
So what makes the job worth so much? And I thought conductor was really the boss. Why do they make so much less?
Not sure I would even want to be conductor on a passenger train. Having to deal with a lot of the hassles they need to deal with.
So I'm going to address the "pay scale" first. Amtrak pays hourly. Norfolk Southern pays by type of job. Whether it be a yard job, road job, mileage, etc. When I was working for NS the most I brought home in one day is about $425.00 that was a job that paid mileage. I also worked a yard job that paid me about $200 a day. NOW if the job works over 8 hours, you get overtime aka paid by the minute. The longest I worked was 18 hours. That was as a trainee and I didn't make what the conductor and engineer made. I made the trainee rate.
At NS as a Conductor Trainee or more commonly referred to as a "CT" you get paid $600.00 a week PRE TAX. From the time you start in Georgia to the time you are marked up. It's $600 a week. If you mark off you'll lose a days pay for how ever long you're marked off for. Once you're marked up or a Certified Conductor you'll make 80% of the full pay rate. So for instance if a days pay at the full 100% is $100 at 80% you make $80. You get a pay increase every year. to 85% 90% and 100%.
Since that posting is for Conway Terminal I'll tell you what I know about what you would do out of that terminal. Working out of Conway you'd go as Far East at Harrisburg. You'd take road trains to Altoona, Harrisburg, and points west. I'm not sure where you'd go west of Conway but you would go west and east. You would take a train to say Altoona, go to a hotel get 10 hours of rest and then when they have a train for you to take back to Conway you'd go back home. That could be as soon as your 10 hours of rest is up or 24 hours after you arrive at the hotel. So when they say talk to your family about the lifestyle you'd live, they ain't kidding! You would work all kinds of crazy hours. Day work, night work, you name it. You want off for your sons birthday? HA! They don't care. You want off for a ball game? Tough s&%t you gotta work. The railroads don't like excuses of why you can't come to work. Oh it's Christmas and you want off? You're a funny guy. Get to work! Oh it's thanksgiving and your family is coming from overseas? I don't give a hoot get to work. When they say they hire for nights, weekends, and holidays.. They aren't kidding. Very few of my shifts at NS were daylight. Very few. I worked a lot of weekends, and I worked on the 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, New Years Eve and New Years Day.
As for what makes the job worth "so much" is the unions. They have contracts with the Railroads and that's where the pay comes in. When I worked for NS, if I touched 2 trains in one work day, I was entitled by the contract to 2 days pay.. Ask me how many times they paid for me for it? No. That's until my terminal super got involved. If I worked outside of a certain area I was yet again entitled to a second days pay. And they rarely paid that claim. Now the one thing that drives up your pay is what's called "detention time". After a certain amount of time in the hotel without being called to return to point A. You collect pay for it.
As for the conductor is boss why don't they make as much?? Yes the conductor is on charge of the train, it's movement, the crew, and anything else you can think of. Why don't they make as much? Well it's simple. Conductor is the entry level job. The Engineer is the senior man and has the experience.
Now as for what you'd be doing as a Conductor I can give some details. You would be riding on the Head End, calling signals over the radio and in the cab, walking the train if you set off a hotbox detector or break a knuckle, riding a shove when required and hanging on railcars for an extended period of time, Talking to the dispatcher one the radio, writing down Track Authorities, and a lot more.
As for working passenger versus freight. It's all a matter of preference. I've worked both. Hours of Service wise.. I prefer freight. Lifestyle wise. I'd take passenger. Trust me it's not an easy choice. But IMO it's a personal choice. Working Passenger on a good day is easy, same with Freight. On a Bad day it depends on which you wanna do more. Deal with someone giving you attitude, or walking a 10,000 foot train trying to find out what's wrong with it while there's a foot of snow on the ground and it's 10 degrees out to find out you broke a knuckle on one of the cars on the hind end, just to walk to the head end again to walk to the rear of the train with a 60 pound knuckle in your arms.
I'm hoping I put it in perspective for you enough to make you decide what you wanna do.
And I also have a Topic on Careers on the Rails which anyone can post job postings to the railroads. So feel free to browse over that as well.
There is a reason why it is one of the better paying careers with no college degree required.
Yeah cause of the unions.
These posts are my views and opinions.
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