Best place to start a railroad career?

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Service Attendant
Aug 14, 2016
With graduation around the corner (a year away!!), I'm beginning to look into where I want to try and start my railroad career.

I'm exploring possibilities with most of the major freight companies, but my ultimate goal is starting out as an Amtrak conductor and eventually rising to management. However, I'm really not sure where I would want to be located to start. I know the rail industry is difficult, and being on the bottom of the totem pole really means no stability and probably lots of moving/transfers at the will of the company, but I'm willing to give it a shot.

Currently I'm looking at Chicago, MSP, or somewhere out in the PacNW.

Any suggestions or advice for someone starting out, please feel free to share! I'd love to hear what things are like on the other side of the fence and how I can prepare myself so I can be successful.



OBS Chief
Feb 27, 2019
Regional heavy-rail transit seems to be a way to get a foot in the door. My son's best friend signed on with the local one here, started by operating the doors and announcing the stops (called a Customer Service Ambassador - they also extend the handicap ramp at stops), worked his way up to conductor and now is a full-fledged engineer. He's thought of transferring to VIA or freight for more money, but likes the hours and predictability of work knowing he'd be starting on the Extra board with either.
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