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How to Get a Job with the Railroad

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Railways are expected to fill 12,000 positions in 2014, according to Freight Rail Works, in capacities ranging from clerical to corporate. One in five of those positions is expected to go to former members of the military, says the Association of American Railroads The railway has been a friend to military personnel for more than 100 years, with up to a quarter of all employees coming from a military background.

Follow the Process

Each railroad company has its own set of rules for applying for a position. The key is to follow those rules. CSX and Montana Rail Link only accept applications online and only for positions that are currently open. Railway companies, such as Union Pacific and Amtrak, require you to create an online account to apply for an opening. The Vermont Rail System allows you to apply online, by fax or by mailing your application in, and you can apply at any time, not just when a position opens. Check the company's website to find out exact requirements.

Take the Tests

If your application is under consideration, you'll likely be called in for an interview. Be mindful that interviews may consist of physical tests as well. CSX has two standard physical assessment tests to evaluate your strength and cardiovascular endurance. Montana Rail Link pays for you to visit a health care provider after you've been offered the job to assess your health and strength. Amtrak requires that you have a medical review prior to applying for positions. You may also have to take color vision and language tests as well.

Emphasize Your Credentials

What experience and education you must have depends on the railroad company and the position you're applying for. Do your homework to make sure you qualify for the job, and, if you do, highlight those credentials. Union Pacific, for example, prefers that applicants for assistant signal person hold a commercial driver's license and an electrician's certificate. The Vermont Rail System wants candidates for its marketing and sales positions to have plenty of experience in sales. Amtrak expects applicants for its road foreman position to have a bachelor's degree in transportation or a related field; failing that, applicants should have a combination of education and experience.

Background Checks

Your background will be thoroughly investigated before you're offered a job with a railway. Exact procedures will depend on the railroad company itself, but you may have to provide references and submit to criminal record and credit checks. According to the Cornell University Law School, employers research the past seven years for criminal convictions and offenses you were acquitted of by reason of insanity. They also research the past five years for evidence of imprisonment. If you're currently wanted by the law, your background check will reveal this as well. Any of these can keep you from getting hired.


Brooke Julia has been a writer since 2009. Her work has been featured in regional magazines, including "She" and "Hagerstown Magazine," as well as national magazines, including "Pregnancy & Newborn" and "Fit Pregnancy."

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