• Hiring process for BNSF conductors?

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

Moderator: thebigc

  by kev33
I'm unfimiliar with the hiring process for this position at BNSF. Could someone explain to me what I can expect, how it works and how is the pay while I'm in? Any information will be a great help. Thanks in advance

  by e.sillery
The way it goes with BNSF is....

They will post the job online and you send in your application, online also.

They will send an email telling you the time and date to be there. DON'T BE LATE!

They will tell you a little about the job and give you a couple of tests. They will also tell you DO NOT turn in a notice to your present employer. If you have basic math skills and can read and understand an 8th grade text book the tests are easy. Then they will interview everyone one on one. Talk about safety and being a team player. At this time they will also take hair for a drug test.

Next you will take a hearing test, a strength test and a physical which includes a vision test.

Next they will send email telling you passed everything and give you a start date and to call the training coordinator.

Then, in my case, 4 days later they will call you and tell you your class has been cancelled, so sorry. But we may hire again next year. :(

So here I sit and wait until next year. :-D

The pay in my area for training is $740 a week based on 48 hrs.
Last edited by e.sillery on Tue Jun 12, 2007 8:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by broussard
In my case I got hired just 3 weeks ago the process went pretty much like e.sillery said. Not much waiting in my case though about 5 weeks from start to finish...Good Luck
  by SantaFeGuy
Remember, you're hired only as a trainee at this point. You must pass the training course and the final conductor's test with a 90% or above your you're gone. BNSF and KCS are by far the most picky in this regard. So study hard and focus.

Another thing to keep in mind, BNSF will take a qualified NARS graduate before anyone else (NARS - National Academy of Railroad Sciences). You can attend there, at lot of us did. It's a bit pricey but it does cover all this material, they have a small yard to work in, locomotives, RCO, it's an overview for 6 weeks but it's intense. Everyone I know who went there ended up with an railroad job somewhere.

In my case, I ended up with KCS, but got cut off during the winter when business downturn made those of us low on the seniority excess on the extra board. Just now getting back, BNSF is picking me up, and man I'm ready to go.

It's not easy to get hired, and the 1st year or two expect to get cut off when business slows, BUT, after that you'll be alright. As a 1st year conductor you'll make 80% of senior conductors, and your pay goes up 5% per year. There are exceptions where you make full rate right away, if you're on through freight, then you'll get trip pay, which can be anywhere for say $600 to $900 round trip. After 5 years you can expect to be pulling in mid to upper 60's, and if you can hold a through freight maybe up to the mid 80's. In the right place guys make more, but those are AVERAGES, some will make less, but compared to other blue collar jobs, even the low paying ones pay really well. Have a fall back job to cover you at first while you wait it out. Good luck and just hang in there. Expect it will take a year or more, be determined, and in the end if you work hard at it, you'll get picked up and have a real career.

  by route_rock
BN conductors make 100% right out of class. So if you get on as a "bn" employee you get full pay as a conductor,foreman,or hostler. Now Santa Fe side guys get hosed with that 80% crap.
Like he said stick with it. Took me 6 months to get on ( actually if you count the interview I couldnt make for the BN it was like 15 years lol) It will come eventually.
  by SantaFeGuy
Route_rock, what division are you in.

Hopefully the Springfield division will be having a class very soon. We're short handed big time here because of retirements. They should have started a class in Springfield, MO this Monday. I don't think they are posting these classes right now however, I think they're just taking guys on their new hire list they've interviewed from NARS and thats it. I don't KNOW that, but from talking to others that's what it seems like. So hiring must be down right now to only replacing the retirements that have to be replaced.

  by route_rock
Chicago Division out of Galesburg.Riding to the Windy on the xboard.

I have heard we need more here but I am not getting a confirmation on any of the rumors. Supposedly having another engineer class, but who knows till it starts.

I knew some guys down on the Thayer sub saying that they couldnt hold their home division cause everyone is coming there cause they like the area. Cant argue that with them as I was born and raised ( kind raised lol) down in that area.

  by t2bill
I was told by a TCC employee that a conductor program would likely be offerred at their NW campus just as the dispatcher program is now set up.
  by tenbaker
Sorry to say, but the Sringfield, MO terminal is not needing help. The Feb. 07 conductors class just finished all required training. Every student got placed on board 674 (WRL).

Also, the 2 additional classes scheduled for this summer and winter have both been canceled for Springfield, MO.

  by e.sillery
Just found out from BNSF that if they offer you a conductors position then cancel the class, you have 6 months to be placed in a class or you start the hiring process all over again.

It has been 6 months for me so if/when they hold another class in my area I will have to reapply and go through everything again.

So, everyone that is waiting for a class to start, watch your time. They didn't tell me when they said my class had been cancelled, I had to send an email and ask directly how long the job offer was good for.

I've been waiting for an offer since I completed the NARS program in Dec 2006 :(

  by bubbaXjoe
Also be ready to travel. I trained in Edgemont SD. Grad. 23Aug07, we were cut off directly out of class. Luckily we were able to place a full bump. Myself and 2 other class mates have made our way out of the PWR. This has been a crazy year; us Coal jockeys are usually busy this time of year...now we are nomads. Its all standard ops though, we all have to pay our dues. Good luck.

  by route_rock
Bubba I have a lot of your friends working out of Galesburg I think. Usually PWR is busy as all get out !! Hopefully we get back to normal and soon!