Career Options

The rail industry is the place to get your career on track. Scroll below to browse your career options―in railway operations, management, and other key areas―and begin your exciting, rewarding and well-paying railway career.

All
Careers In Railway Operations
Careers In Railway Management
Other Career Opportunities

Conductor

As a Conductor, you will coordinate the activities of freight and passenger train crews while striving to ensure customer satisfaction, and efficient, cost-effective operations. There is plenty of opportunity for career advancement too―Conductors often go on to become Locomotive Engineers or Trainmasters.

Responsibilities:

  • Carry out instructions regarding a train's schedule and specific movements
  • Handle the switching of cars, including connecting and disconnecting cars
  • Communicate, interpret and relay signals affecting train movements
  • Communicate with crew members using specific hand or radio signals to indicate direction of movement, the need to stop a train, or to set or release air brakes
  • Prepare and complete reports relevant to train orders and switching lists
  • Move trains using remote-controlled devices
  • Be 100 per cent committed to safety

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Conductor, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.
  • In some cases you will travel. This will usually be up to 320 kilometres from your home terminal.
  • This is a job that requires excellent health and conditioning as it involves constant physical activity.
  • A typical starting salary for a Conductor is $47,000 to $60,000 a year.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Railways put new recruits through rigorous training programs―including anywhere from three to six months of hands-on training in the field―before they become qualified Conductors. Some railways require additional hands-on work experience in a rail yard before new recruits can apply to become Conductors. By regulation, new recruits have to pass the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, railway signals and dangerous goods exams in order to become qualified Conductors. Depending on where they work in Canada, Conductors will have to re-certify their credentials by passing these exams either every two or every three years. Students wishing to get a head start on their Conductor training can enrol in the Railway Conductor Program offered by a select group of colleges across Canada.

Locomotive Engineer

As a Locomotive Engineer, you will operate trains carrying freight or passengers between stations. At most railways, Locomotive Engineers are promoted from the position of Conductor.

Responsibilities:

  • Operate diesel-electric locomotives, diesel railcars and passenger control-cars
  • Check the train’s mechanical condition and be on the lookout for possible problems
  • Monitor instruments that measure speed, amperage, battery charge and air pressure
  • Be constantly aware of what is going on with the train and how different elements affect its operation (i.e. cargo weight, grade, acceleration)
  • Work closely with Conductors
  • Be 100 per cent committed to safety

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Locomotive Engineer, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will be on-call, will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.
  • In some cases you will travel. This will usually be up to 320 kilometres from your home terminal.
  • Salaries for a Locomotive Engineer range from $80,000 to $105,000 a year.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Locomotive Engineers are typically promoted from the Conductor ranks. Some railways require two years of experience as a Conductor before candidates can apply to take the Locomotive Engineer Training Program. Training programs are generally four to eight months in length, and include theory and practical training in:
  • Canadian Rail Operating Rules
  • Locomotive operation, braking, inspection and troubleshooting
  • Train-handling strategies
  • Car air-brake systems and brake tests
  • Train marshalling
  • Crew Resource Management (CRM) awareness
By regulation, Locomotive Engineers must pass the Canadian Rail Operating Rules exam in order to be considered qualified. Depending on where they work in Canada, they will have to re-certify their credentials by passing this exam either every two or every three years.

Signals and Communications Maintainer

As a Signals and Communication (S&C) Maintainer, your job will be to install, maintain, test, replace and repair railway signals and communications equipment. Troubleshooting is a large part of the job because you will need to analyze, isolate and resolve any malfunctions.

Responsibilities:

  • Dig holes and trenches to install wiring, control cables and related hardware
  • Replace defective or used wires, control cabinets and ancillary equipment
  • Operate vehicles on tracks and highways
  • Safely load and unload equipment and supplies from trucks or flat cars
  • Test and verify the correct operation of S&C systems and equipment in your assigned territory
  • Locate problems or failures, investigate and take the proper corrective action
  • Install apparatus in accordance with prepared circuit drawings
  • Perform a variety of maintenance work necessary to keep equipment running smoothly at all times
  • Be 100 per cent committed to safety

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As an S&C Maintainer, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.
  • S&C Maintainers work on a specific portion of territory assigned to them―this may be in urban, rural, or isolated areas. You will need the ability to work individually, and as part of a team.
  • As an S&C Maintainer, you will work outdoors in all weather conditions, and will need to wear protective equipment such as a helmet, eyewear and steel-toed boots. This is a job that requires excellent physical health and conditioning.
  • S&C Maintainers are paid on an hourly basis, plus additional stand-by pay for being on-call. The average yearly salary for this position is $60,000 to $75,000.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Railways typically put new S&C Maintainer recruits through months of training to learn track circuitry, crossing activation, and the mechanics of signals. Candidates must also pass the Canadian Rail Operating Rules exam. Depending on where they work in Canada, they will have to re-certify their credentials by passing this exam either every two or every three years.

Track Maintainer

Track Maintainer careers are for those who enjoy working outside and have good hand-eye coordination. Your job will centre on inspecting tracks for defects, and replacing or repairing such things as worn or broken rails, switch ties, spikes and rail anchors.

Responsibilities:

  • Work as a crew member to perform maintenance, repair and replacement tasks using common and specialized hand tools
  • Maintain tools and equipment so they are always in top working order
  • Unload, sort and distribute maintenance materials
  • Make safety your top priority, ensuring a safe work area at all times

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Track Maintainer, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays when needed.
  • This job requires excellent physical health and conditioning as you will frequently lift weights up to 25 kilograms, and occasionally lift up to 45 kilograms.
  • You will work outdoors and in all kinds of weather conditions, with regular exposure to dust, pollen, noise and vibrations.
  • You will sometimes work away from home.
  • The average yearly salary for a Track Maintainer is $55,000 to $65,000.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

As an entry-level position, new Track Maintainer hires receive on-the-job training on how to identify track maintenance issues, operate maintenance tools, and protect rail lines while they’re working on them.

Railway Car Technician / Car Mechanic

As a Railway Car Technician/Car Mechanic, you will be responsible for inspecting trains and repairing cars on the tracks or in repair shops. This job is ideal for those who have a mechanical aptitude and enjoy hands-on work.

Responsibilities:

  • Interpret engineering drawings to plan maintenance jobs
  • Perform calculations and measurements
  • Be knowledgeable about a variety of documents including manufacturers’ manuals, technical bulletins, parts bulletins, service or preventative maintenance manuals, as well as Association of American Railroads (AAR) field manuals and government regulations
  • Fill out work orders such as billing repair cards, wheel reporting cards, inspection records and dangerous goods documentation
  • Work with hand, power, pneumatic and hydraulic tools
  • Use an assortment of complex equipment including shielded metal arc welding (SMAW), gas metal arc welding (GMAW), oxy-fuel and plasma-arc cutting tools
  • Follow designed methods and procedures for safely servicing and inspecting rail trucks, underframes, brakes, car safety appliances, car bodies, and coaches
  • Be extremely familiar with the rail safety and occupational health and safety legislation in your jurisdiction, as well as Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS), sanitation and food safety regulations, and any other applicable acts, codes and regulations

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Railway Car Technician/Car Mechanic, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.
  • You will work outdoors in all weather conditions.
  • The average yearly salary for this position is $60,000 to $70,000.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Railway Car Technicians/Car Mechanics typically complete a multi-year apprenticeship program offered by their railway. Through this program, they learn about railcar components, how to operate car-repair equipment, and the rules for car inspection, maintenance and repair.

Heavy Duty Mechanic

The Heavy Duty Mechanic (HDM) position is ideal for those who like to split their time between working in a shop and out in the field. You should have excellent hand-eye coordination as well as good organizational and computer skills. HDMs are broken down into two categories: Shop HDMs and Field HDMs. Field positions are typically, but not exclusively, filled during the spring and summer months.

Responsibilities:

Shop HDMs

  • Perform major repairs to equipment and components
  • Work as part of a team to complete repairs on time and on budget
  • Inspect and determine required repairs, develop repair schedule, order parts and resources, and perform and document repairs
  • Conduct tests on repaired equipment to ensure it is operating safely
  • Troubleshoot systems such as hydraulics, electrical, electronic and drive-train components, and diesel and gas engines
  • Read and interpret blueprints, schematics and material take-offs
  • Operate welding and machining equipment
  • Use measuring devices and understand visual displays
  • Be 100 per cent committed to safety

Field HDMs

  • Service equipment while working on the track
  • Coach and assist operators with daily inspections and maintenance
  • Monitor performance of equipment to maintenance requirements, and perform repairs in a prompt and efficient manner
  • Operate repair trucks
  • Troubleshoot systems such as hydraulics, electrical, electronic and drive-train components, and diesel and gas engines
  • Read blueprints, schematics and material take-offs
  • Operate welding and machining equipment
  • Use measuring devices and understand visual displays
  • Be 100 per cent committed to safety

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As an HDM, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays when needed.
  • This job requires excellent physical health and conditioning, as you will frequently lift weights up to 25 kilograms and occasionally lift up to 45 kilograms.
  • You will work outdoors and in all kinds of weather conditions, with regular exposure to dust, pollen, noise and vibrations.
  • Field HDMs typically work away from home and are provided with a living allowance.
  • Substantial overtime is required for both Field and Shop HDMs.
  • The average yearly salary for a Heavy Duty Mechanic is $60,000 to $70,000.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

HDM candidates must have their Red Seal designation as a Heavy Duty Equipment Technician, or their railway must sponsor them to get this designation through a multi-year apprenticeship program.

Trainmaster

The Trainmaster manages the day-to-day operation of their assigned territory, and is responsible for dealing with both customers and staff. This role is critical to ensuring the on-time performance of both freight and passenger railways, and is ideal for someone with an interest or background in human resources, with a solid understanding of labour and collective agreements.

Responsibilities:

  • Use strong planning, problem-solving and organizational skills to build and maintain an effective team
  • Manage employees and day-to-day transportation issues in compliance with the railway’s operating plan
  • Conduct accident/derailment investigations
  • Demonstrate a commitment to safety, as well as a thorough understanding of customer service and train operations, a strong sense of teamwork, a high level of integrity, and very good communication skills

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Trainmaster, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays when needed.
  • Trainmasters operate in fast-paced environments and substantial overtime is usually required.
  • Salaries vary among railway companies for this critical position, however it is generally very well compensated in terms of salary and benefits.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Trainmaster candidates must have a high school diploma, and generally have previous railway experience as a Conductor or Locomotive Engineer. If they are not already qualified as a Conductor or Locomotive Engineer, railways sometimes require Trainmasters to pass the Canadian Rail Operating Rules exam as they can occasionally be called on to operate trains.

Mechanical Supervisor

The Mechanical Supervisor manages the day-to-day operation of the locomotive and railcar shops, to ensure that maintenance and repair work is performed safely and efficiently.

Responsibilities:

  • Perform and supervise various tasks related to the efficient maintenance and repair of locomotives and railcars
  • Build and motivate a team
  • Maintain a safe working environment
  • Display strong planning, problem-solving and decision-making skills

Typical Working Conditions, Hours & Salary:

  • Railways operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Mechanical Supervisor, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays when needed.
  • Salaries vary among railways for this important position, but you’ll find that the compensation―both salary and benefits―are competitive with other industries.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Typically, a Mechanical Supervisor has previous railway experience as a Heavy Duty Mechanic or Railway Car Technician. Passing the Canadian Rail Operating Rules exam is not a requirement for this position.

Rail Traffic Controller

As a Rail Traffic Controller (RTC), you are responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the railway within your assigned territory. You will juggle many different responsibilities and manage staff, so someone with outstanding organizational and interpersonal skills would excel in this position. If career advancement is what you’re looking for, this job is a great starting point.

Specific Responsibilities:

  • Ensure the safe movement of trains and other on-track railway equipment
  • Minimize delays to railway traffic through effective planning and scheduling
  • Communicate, interpret and relay signals affecting train movements
  • Coordinate the meeting of trains to optimize railway performance
  • Ensure the cost-effective movement of trains and other on-track equipment to optimize physical and human resources
  • Enter data into various information and control systems
  • Maintain an ongoing awareness of the operation of the railway – from equipment and signals, to car handling rules, operating manuals, computer applications and collective agreements
  • Assist in solving any problems that arise in your assigned territory

Typical Working Conditions, Hours and Salary:

  • Railwa­ys operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. As a Rail Traffic Controller, you will not work a typical nine-to-five shift. You will work irregular hours and must be available to work weekends and holidays.
  • The majority of a Rail Traffic Controller’s work is performed at a desktop workstation. Much of it involves using computers and monitoring activity on computer displays. RTCs also make heavy use of radio communication technology to stay in touch with track maintenance and train crews.
  • Entry-level Rail Traffic Controllers earn approximately $55,000 a year, and can progress to making up to $94,000 a year.

Training Requirements & Qualifications:

Rail Traffic Controller candidates must have a high school diploma, and generally have previous railway experience as a Conductor or Locomotive Engineer. RTCs must have a working knowledge of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, and must be familiar with the software that their railway uses to control traffic.

Information Technology

You’ll have the latest technology and tools at your fingertips to improve railway efficiency and deliver better service to rail customers. Railways offer positions in a number of areas, including: Solutions Delivery, Application & Infrastructure Support, Business Solutions and Network Support.

Sales & Marketing

There are challenging positions in both sales and marketing at Canada’s railway companies.

Customer Service

Customer service is vital to any organization’s success―the railway industry is no different, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities in this area.

Human Resources

Finding and keeping great people is an important part of running a railway. Consider joining a human resources department in this fast-growing industry.

Finance / Accounting

Finance and accounting are essential roles in every business, and railways offer excellent opportunities for career growth in this area.

Office Administration

A variety of positions are available in general office support.