NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.

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Dewoc19
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 5:54 pm

NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Dewoc19 » Sat May 28, 2011 6:19 pm

Hello all, as you can see im new here. My name is Zach, im 26 and i live in Chicago. I hope this is in the correct section (as it pertains to NS) if not then please feel free to move this topic where need be.

As you can see for the title of this topic i have a few questions and request some info from fellow NS employees or just people with general knowledge. A few days ago i got an email for an invite to NS for a conductor trainee position for Chicago, IL. I have done plenty of Google searches and know what the duties of a conductor are and have read the info on the NS sight. My question is im currently a concrete finisher and make pretty good money (when im actually working) and was wondering what the pay is like..... i have read some very conflicting info online and it has be a bit nervous to even take the job if offered to me. I have read salaries ranging anywhere from 25k-75k a year starting out. Now believe me i know how the new guy works out, you dont get rich over night or make the big bucks right out of the gate, but i already make 40k a year and if starting out is less than that its going to be a huge problem. Would anybody be able to help me out what the average salary will be like for a first year conductor should i get the job, or at least ballpark me.

Also will i be working every single holiday and weekend as the new guy? I'm generally looking for just any info or help on this matter that i can as i dont want to go into this thing thinking one thing and be totally blind sided if i find out im way off.

Thanks

Zach

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Gadfly » Sun May 29, 2011 8:43 am

You will most likely be working on most holidays and weekends. Why? Because those with seniority will get their choice of assignments FIRST. You would likely be on what's called an "Extra Board", and it means just that: you are an "extra" employee that fills in for other regular assigned (and other) extra employees who are off account vacation, sick, personal days. Pay-wise, depending on the locale and union agreements, your pay will be at a percentage of the advertised rate. So, let's say that your starting rate is $20/hr, you will start at 85%, move to 90%, then 100% of an advertised rate. If you go onto a certain road job with a advertised rate of the incumbent employee, you take the rate of that employee you are filling in for at the percentage rate. It varies from road to road, and I realize I may be off. Things change, but that's the way it worked when I was out there. IF taking less is "going to be a huge problem", it just might BE! Then again, it could be that the percentage rate, or your average will exceed the amount you say you are getting now. Your actual hours of work, holidays cannot be predicted. It all depends on the locale, the needs of the company, and business load as to what will really happen. If you are looking for an "office" job with 9-5 or
7-5 and go home on weekends and holidays, FORGET IT: you are barking up the wrong tree! :) YMMV.

Curious: WHY do you want to leave what you have to go onto a job with unsettled hours, a disruptive lifestyle, and a militaristic paternalism like no other industry around? You'd have to have read here that railroading is NOT the picnic that many of the public THINK it is!

Gadfly
(Retired NS)

Dewoc19
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 5:54 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Dewoc19 » Sun May 29, 2011 10:29 am

why do i want to leave what im doing now, cause im not really doing anything now. The construction industry is very slow right now, i have filled out dozens and dozens of applications to companies and followed up with them for weeks and havent gotten anywhere with it. Im hoping that this will at least be a steady job, if not i just quit and go back to what im already doing. The amount of money im making now is mostly based on unemployment which will very soon run out so it would be nice to find some sort of job, even if its only making how much i make now, i dont expect to be making way over what i make now in my first year, but i also can make way less either

gp80mac
Posts: 854
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 5:08 pm
Location: here. Or there.

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by gp80mac » Sun May 29, 2011 12:41 pm

If you work solid your first year, don't get furloughed or mark off a lot - figure around $40K, depending on where and what you work, obviously. Could be a little less, could be a little more.

For a new guy on an extra list, forget about weekends. Unless you happen to find yourself a nice little yard composed primarily of M-F locals, you will be working any and all days.
Yep.....

Engineer Spike
Posts: 1919
Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2004 3:24 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Engineer Spike » Mon May 30, 2011 8:59 pm

The 40K+ figure seems right. Just don't be afraid to work, and stay marked up. You may get furloughed, so make it while you can. Live with the lowest overhead possible, for the first few years. Don't be the idiot who buys the new loaded K2500HD diesel, in your first year. I have seen those guys with their long faces, when the repo guy shows up.
Just stick it out, and have another trade ready to go, just in case. In the long run, it will be a good career.

Gadfly
Posts: 1198
Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 11:28 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Gadfly » Tue May 31, 2011 8:06 am

Engineer Spike wrote:The 40K+ figure seems right. Just don't be afraid to work, and stay marked up. You may get furloughed, so make it while you can. Live with the lowest overhead possible, for the first few years. Don't be the idiot who buys the new loaded K2500HD diesel, in your first year. I have seen those guys with their long faces, when the repo guy shows up.
Just stick it out, and have another trade ready to go, just in case. In the long run, it will be a good career.

Yep! I've seen 'em do that! A few months later they came in with a long face.
"Whatsa matter?" (How am I gonna pay for the new truck now?)

They show ya the bulletin that states "Effective Seven naught one (fill in date), the following #7 Extra Board positions, Piedmont Division, are abolished."

Put back for a rainy day! There will be plenty of those! However, if you play your cards right and can find some other little side job for the off-times it works out pretty good. When I was furloughed in the early years, I worked for an exterminating company part-time, and used the time to catch up on home projects (with the wife's approval). I could even predict WHEN I would be cut off. It is a rough way to make a living, but all in all, like Engineer Spike said, it IS a good career if you can tough it out. It will be worth it in the long run. ;)

Gadfly

drewg350
Posts: 136
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2010 11:59 pm
Location: Minneapolis, MN

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by drewg350 » Tue May 31, 2011 11:01 pm

Zach, the 40K figure should be very easy for you to attain, especially being in one of the largest and busiest places in the country to work, Chicago. They never have enough people to fill the jobs. You should easily be able to make 40K your first year and that's including approx. 4-5 months of McDonough (3 weeks) and OJT training. I'm working in New Jersey on the road side of NS and will be "marking up" next week. I was hired in January. The trainee before me is making $3200.00 per half at 80% !!!! I'm not saying you'll make that much as it depends upon alot of factors, but I'll pretty much guarantee you'll make at least the 40K your currently making if you hire out in Chicago. Chicago's a tough place to work though and from what I've been told, can be ALOT to learn as your dealing with so many different RR's all in one place. In Chicago you have every major freight RR, including NS, CSX, UP, BNSF, CP, CN, and more, as well as all the passenger lines too !!! If your traveling across several of these RR's lines, you must learn alot more rules, signals, communications, etc....But, that also means there's alot of places to hire out on so don't limit yourself to one RR. Look around, do some research, and you'll surely find some are much better than others. Good luck, if there's anything I can answer for you, feel free to send me a PM. Drew g

Georgia Railroader
Posts: 155
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 7:07 pm
Location: Georgia

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Georgia Railroader » Thu Jun 02, 2011 3:51 pm

Your pay will depend on your location and how busy it is. You may work on your rest everyday, or stay 1st out on the board for days. 40k is doable if you stay marked up.

Dewoc19
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 5:54 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Dewoc19 » Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:53 pm

Thank you all for your replies, this makes me feel much better about the whole thing even before going into it.

Yeah, Chicago i would imagine would be very busy for the railroad as its the biggest city in the midwest, so theres going to be a lot of activity. Im open to other railroads and such if ever came down to that and i absolutely needed to, and if i get laid off im not really to worried about it as i have many options to fall back on in terms of short or semi long term work to hold me over until i get called back.

Thanks again for all your help on this issue, its greatly appreciated

Dewoc19
Posts: 95
Joined: Sat May 28, 2011 5:54 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by Dewoc19 » Tue Jul 05, 2011 4:41 pm

I figured i would post a little update here, i got cleared for work and am scheduled to start training in McDonough July, 18th. Im pretty excited about the new opportunity, im sure life on the railroad isnt sunshine and rainbows all the time but honestly it will be nice to finally be in what appears to be a more secure job instead of the one that im doing now

pingzing
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Jun 21, 2011 4:05 pm

Re: NS Conductor Questions/Info Needed

Post by pingzing » Fri Jul 08, 2011 2:08 am

Good deal man! I am also going July 18th. have you heard anything about what items to bring with you?

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