Career Profile: Railway Conductor

Career Profile: Railway Conductor

by Susan Huebert
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

A hundred years ago, trains were a regular part of everyday life. This type of transportation is not as popular as it once was in Canada, but trains are still very important. Railway conductors help to keep trains running on time with their passengers and cargo.

Railway conductors have very important jobs as organizers for train trips. On passenger trains, conductors help people find their seats, carry their luggage, and help them with anything else they need. For example, passengers might need help getting off at the right station. On freight trains, conductors help to load or unload boxes and other packages. The work can be hard, and conductors need to work in all kinds of weather.

Working as a railway conductor involves a lot of stamina. Being able to work long hours is important. When trains arrive at stations, workers have a limited amount of time to load and unload the cargo. Conductors can help by organizing the work and moving some of the cargo themselves. They should have good hearing and vision, and they should be able to work at heights of up to three or four metres.

Being organized and thorough is important for railway conductors. Trains are made up of many different cars that can be attached to each other at different stations and detached when they reach their destination. Conductors need to keep track of which cars need to go to each station, and sometimes they might need to do the actual work of putting the right cars on the train. For this, conductors need to know where the different tracks are and to be able to guide the cars to the right place. Other people also help with this process, but conductors take charge of the work.

Normally, a high school education is enough to become a railway conductor. Many employers also require conductors to take a six-week course, but most of the training is on the job. Salaries start at about $51,000 and can rise to $90,000. If they remain healthy, railway conductors can stay in this job for many years, but it can be difficult as people age.

Some parts of the job can be stressful. Besides the long hours at stations and the late nights dealing with problems along the route, railway conductors might have to deal with health issues if they breathe in too much carbon dioxide or other gases coming from the train or other vehicles. The schedules of the trips mean that conductors often have to miss family events, school reunions, or other special occasions.

Large companies like the Canadian National Railway are most likely to have jobs for railway conductors, but smaller companies also have work. On the Prairies, much of the railway work involves grain shipments, while other parts of the country have lumber or cattle to ship. Conductors might want to specialize in a certain kind of train, but much of the work is the same for freight trains. Passenger trains are not very common in Canada, but a limited amount of work in that area is still available.

Working as a railway conductor can be a good way to see the country. If you are strong and can handle long hours, why not consider this career?


The Balance Careers. “What Does a Railroad Conductor Do?” https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-does-a-railroad-conductor-do-1361526.

CSX. “Freight Conductor.” https://www.csx.com/index.cfm/working-at-csx/job-overviews/transportation/freight-conductor/.

Indeed.com. “Canadian National Railway Employee Reviews for Conductor.” https://ca.indeed.com/cmp/Canadian-National-Railway/reviews?fjobtitle=Conductor.

Payscale Canada. “Train Conductor Salary.” https://www.payscale.com/research/CA/Job=Train_Conductor/Salary?signedUp.

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