How to become

How to Become a Train Conductor

How to Become Train Conductor


Keeping the train, its cargo, its passengers, and its staff together is the conductor’s responsibility. To move the train promptly and safely from station to station, you will collaborate with the driver or engineer. Be prepared to work long hours, often into the night and on the weekends, and to travel for days at a time. Be ready to verify tickets, interact with passengers closely, and make sure everyone on board is transported safely and comfortably. Although the average industry income was $56,570 per year as of May 2011, you can make up to $80,000 a year as a train conductor. Additionally, train companies frequently offer first-rate retirement plans and benefits.

An explanation of a train conductor

On long-distance trains, the conductor acts as the supervisor. They coordinate the activities of the onboard staff and supervise the loading and unloading of cargo and/or passengers. By making announcements about impending arrivals and schedule changes, they keep passengers informed throughout a journey. On top of that, they guarantee that all safety precautions are taken.

Required training for a train conductor

Employer programmes are frequently used to handle training for railroad positions. After completing high school and passing a drug test, you are qualified for an entry-level position. You can also think about getting an associate’s degree or certificate. Community colleges provide courses in railroad operations, conductor technology, and conductor training, frequently in collaboration with local railroads.

Community college programmes make clear your responsibilities for maintaining awareness of changing conditions and your role as conductor in ensuring the safe operation of a train. Programs combine in-class instruction with practical work experience through internships. You might study railroad history, operational guidelines, and conductor service responsibilities in your classes.

Fundamentals for becoming a train conductor

Speak with present-day and retired train drivers

Ask as many questions as you can about the position before deciding if it’s the perfect one for you.

  • Inquire about the pay, the hours, the colleagues, and the customers. Find out about the talents you’ll need and the ones you’ll learn. Inquire as to how conductors manage their social lives and jobs. Find out what it’s like to work for particular railroads by asking. Inquire as to how conductors came to be where they are.
  • Try to talk to the conductor when you have a chance to board a train.
  • Read the personal tales of former and current conductors, as well as internet forums concerning the railroad industry. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with conductors if you want additional details, even if it’s just to post a question on a forum. You could discover that many seasoned conductors are eager to impart their knowledge to you.
Know the requirements of the position

The personnel, passengers, freight, and the train itself are all under the control of the conductor. Daily responsibilities for a passenger train employee include:

  • Prior to a trip, make sure the coaches are clean.
  • Ensuring that the machinery, doors, and controls are in good functioning order.
  • Examining tickets and travel documents while moving through the carriages.
  • Addressing queries from travelers on routes, arrival schedules, and connections.
  • Delivering announcements via the PA system.
  • Ensuring the safe boarding and exiting of passengers.
  • Dealing with unforeseen delays or emergencies, such a sick passenger.
  • Reporting any delays or issues that happen during each voyage, in detail.
Recognize the advantages and disadvantages

As a conductor, you’ll get to travel a lot and earn a good salary, but it can be lonely on the trains and your family life may suffer if you have to spend long stretches of time away from them.

  • As a train conductor, you might earn more than $80,000 a year, or almost $39 per hour. The lowest-paid train drivers in May 2011 earned less than $39,120, or $18.84/hour. The typical annual wage in the sector was $56,570, or about $27.20 per hour.
  • Excellent retirement plans and perks are frequently offered by rail firms.
  • You’ll get paid to tour the nation and see a new location every day. You’ll get knowledge of the entire train business. The majority of your days will be spent traveling by train.
  • On a daily basis, if you work as a conductor on a passenger train, you will engage with passengers to ensure their safety and attend to their requirements. If you’re the kind of person who needs to be around people all the time, working on a freight train may make you lonely because you’ll mostly be interacting with the driver, the yard workers, and the freight itself.
Recognize the path ahead

You will probably need to start off working on the train crew as a switch-person or a brake person if you don’t already have any prior expertise in the transportation sector.

  • As on-ground traffic controllers for rail lines, switch people and brake people are employed. These are entry-level jobs; for example, you can work for Union Pacific without having any prior railroad experience.
  • You will be allocated to a certain hub in a big city as a member of the train crew, and this will decide the area in which you work. You might be expected to travel, and you might be given a job anywhere in that geographic hub.
  • Becoming a conductor or locomotive engineer is directly related to roles as a switch person or brake-person (train driver). Consider taking a job in a rail yard and moving up to a conductor position if you’re serious about the sector.
  • Many tasks are distributed according to seniority in the railroad sector. Work hard, be persistent, and develop relationships.
  • Most rail companies will pay for your training if you apply directly for conductor employment and are qualified. Depending on the rail firm, if you’re among the best candidates, you might be able to advance to the position of train conductor in as little as three months.
Make a resume

To apply to a railway corporation, you’ll need a solid résumé, and having prior transportation-related expertise will be to your advantage.

  • Be sincere when describing your credentials. The accuracy of your former employment history, criminal record, and driving record should all be checked. A background check is required for train conductors, and if you have any dark secrets that are public knowledge, the check will reveal them.
  • Your cover letter and CV should show that you are dependable, responsible, and able to perform well under pressure.
  • A high school graduation (or GED equivalent) and 2-3 years of general job experience are the sole qualifications (or college). However, if you have expertise in the transportation or safety sectors, such as as a bus driver, tram driver, or ferry pilot, your CV will appear considerably stronger.
  • Any operational experience, whether in the transportation, food, or retail industries, will be to your advantage.
Apply for the position

Search for employment openings on third-party job-placement websites or by contacting particular railroads directly. Keep in mind that if you lack prior experience, you might need to start off on the bottom as a train crew member or a yard worker.

  • The majority of the country’s main railroads are always looking to hire conductors. By 2020, it is anticipated that the demand for train conductors would increase by 5%, mostly due to population expansion, worldwide trade, and a wave of elderly, retiring conductors. However, in the United States, a lack of new railway construction hinders the industry’s expansion.
  • Put in as many applications as you can for jobs. Submit an application to the railroads that pass through the area where you want to work. The location of the lines can be found on a company’s website.
  • Remember that a train conductor’s tasks are heavily influenced by safety. Once more, having previous experience as a bus or tram driver will be quite advantageous.
Participate at a hiring event and perform well on the job interview

The business will invite you to a hiring event where you will take a pre-employment test if you are qualified for a certain railroad.

  • Simple mechanical problems and reading comprehension are frequently included on exams. Even if you are an expert in certain areas, it never hurts to review before a crucial exam.
  • Dress professionally as you would for any job interview. Wear a button-down shirt and a tie, men. Women dress professionally or don a pants suit.
Winning the interview

If you pass the hiring test, you’ll have an individual interview. If your interview goes well, you’ll get a job offer with conditions.

Be kind, collected, and professional during the interview. Show that you can maintain composure under pressure and that you are good with people.

  • You’re almost employed if you get a conditional employment offer, so congrats! A background check and medical screening are required. Aspiring Casey Joneses should “check their speed” during the application process because the medical exam involves a drug test. More than most other businesses, the transportation sector requires workers to be responsible, level-headed, and quick on their feet in an emergency.
  • You’re almost employed if you get a conditional employment offer, so congrats! A background check and medical screening are required. Aspiring Casey Joneses should “check their speed” during the application process because the medical exam involves a drug test. More than most other businesses, the transportation sector requires workers to be responsible, level-headed, and quick on their feet in an emergency.
Obtain railway conductor certification

Inquire about the employment training process from the hiring supervisors at your new railroad company.

A 5–6 week training course, frequently provided by a community college or technical institute, is something that several train companies demand of new conductors. A certificate in train conductor technology is frequently the end result of these studies. Rules of operation, safety, signals, rail equipment, and train conductor responsibilities are typically included in programme courses.

The majority of the time, practical railroad experience is thought to be the best training for a conductor position.

Any on-the-job training should be completed slowly.
  • Many rail firms will require you to complete 8 to 22 weeks of extra on-the-job training at your given site after you have been employed, trained, and assigned to a location or “hub”.
  • If you succeed, the period of “on-the-job training” may conclude much sooner than is realistic; as a result, pay attention, take notes, and attempt to learn as much as you can about the field.
Be serious about it

If you want to become a train conductor full-time, you may be in charge of the daily comfort and safety of hundreds of passengers. You can be in charge of cargo worth hundreds or even millions of dollars.

Be accountable and responsible. Even though the hours may be erratic, show up for work when summoned, abstain from using drugs or alcohol, and make sure you get enough sleep. Consider your work an honor rather than just a means of support.

Be courteous to your passengers

There may be times when you need to be firm; if someone doesn’t have a ticket or is being disruptive, you might even need to throw them off the train. On the other hand, if you work on a passenger train, you will be in direct contact with these individuals every day. As a result, be positive, courteous, and patient.

Honor your seniors.

There are numerous train workers who have been on the tracks for years. You’ll benefit from listening to and picking up tips from individuals who have more experience in the field than you have.

Duties of train conductor

Making sure that the train’s crew members do their assigned responsibilities will be the focus of your efforts. To resolve any issues with other trains or track obstructions, you’ll collaborate with the yardmaster and engineer. You can inform the engineer of any mechanical issues and inform passengers of any changes to the schedule.

Your responsibilities will be centered on ensuring the security of your cargo and passengers. You must keep track of the weight distribution in freight trains and inventory each car’s contents as the conductor. You will collect tickets and collaborate with the engineer to adhere to departure and arrival timetables on passenger trains.

Employment and pay

More than 1,92,000 workers, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), work on freight railroads. At that time, 84% of Class I railroad employees were members of a union.In 2020, there were roughly 74,600 railroad workers, of whom 32,900 were conductors and yardmasters, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ( The BLS forecasted a 5% reduction in employment across the sector from 2020 to 2030, while some railroad vocations could see growth if more people and businesses choose to ship and travel by rail in reaction to rising gas prices.

As of May 2021, the average salary for railroad conductors was $65,440. At that time, the average pay for conductors employed by local governments was $60,850, compared to $65,920 for those employed by the rail transportation sector.


On the train, where does the conductor sleep?

Since they have the finest view of the platform from the center of the train, the conductor frequently stays there. While most transit systems may now operate with one person per train (OPTO), some, like the New York City Subway, Toronto Transit Commission, and Sydney Trains, still utilize conductors.

What do train drivers do after dark?

Similar to how drivers of cars use their headlights, train drivers use theirs to see at night. The headlights on a train are focused on the track rather than a broad field of vision like those on a car. By concentrating on the track, the train driver only sees potential obstructions.

What Are the Duties of a Locomotive Engineer and Railroad Conductor?

Train conductors oversee the crew and passengers’ activities on board while locomotive engineers operate passenger and freight trains. Passengers may give money or tickets to conductors, who can also help them if they need it.

Is driving a train a challenging work?

A conductor’s life consumes them. Being a conductor is extremely hard, but it also offers a solid livelihood and an excellent retirement plan.

Can a woman operate a train?

They might fix locomotives or work in an auto shop. It helps women have a better grasp of the railroad as a whole and the working circumstances in the industry. Kelly Levis underwent conductor training and obtained conductor certification before becoming vice president of CN’s industrial goods division.