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America's Railroads Positioned for Job Growth over Next Five Years

Article-America's Railroads Positioned for Job Growth over Next Five Years

America’s railroads are well positioned for job growth as rail traffic begins to return and the industry is forecasted to see a significant wave of retirements over the next five years. According to U.S. Railroad Retirement Board data, 67,000 rail employees will be eligible for retirement over the next five years, representing roughly 30 percent of the industry’s current workforce. In addition, railroads have begun to hire in response to the gradual return in rail traffic, bringing back workers or recruiting new employees for jobs located all around the U.S.

“Railroads today are well positioned to offer jobs – potentially life-long careers – to people all across the country,” said Edward R. Hamberger, president and CEO of the Association of American Railroads (AAR)

Railroads devote tremendous resources to training employees for often high-tech positions, and offer highly competitive compensation packages. According to Department of Commerce data, the average full-time U.S. railroad employee in 2009 earned $81,563 in wages and $25,522 in benefits, for total average annual compensation of $107,085.  By comparison, the average full-time employee in all industries earned only $51,888 in wages and $12,665 in benefits, for a total average annual compensation of $64,552 — just 60 percent of the comparable rail industry figure.

To highlight the freight rail industry’s dedicated and diverse work force, AAR has launched the “Faces of Freight Rail”. This interactive online story gallery features more than 40 profiles men and women from various sectors of the rail industry. Rail jobs can be found all over the country, and may require any number of skill sets – from locomotive engineers, to maintenance shop workers to railroad police agents. Some of these Faces include:

* Anne Gill, a director of track measurement with BNSF Railway and 15 years working at a railroad, whose job includes looking for ways to improve on the industry’s safety record;

* John Brown, a locomotive engineer with Canadian National, with 15 years of railroad experience who joined the railroad after emigrating from New Zealand;

* Jackie Litzinger, with 16 years at CSX and 30 years in law enforcement, is now the first female chief of police of any freight railroad in North America;

* Elizabeth Lapee, a telecommunications specialist with nine years at Kansas City Southern who credits a railroad career for making possible her ability to raise a family of eight;

* Blair Wimbush of Norfolk Southern, with 30 years in railroading, leads the company’s efforts to conserve fuel, increase energy efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions, and

* Damien Thompson, a senior manager with seven years at Union Pacific, working in the company’s Response Management Communication Center to respond to train dispatchers, emergency responders and police providing information that could affect railroad operations.

Freight railroads in particular actively recruit military veterans, and the industry is frequently recognized by military and veteran organizations for their efforts. Over the past several years, G.I. Jobs magazine has named five major freight railroads to their annual America's Top 100 “Military Friendly Employers” list.

"Veterans are highly trained, committed to excellence, safety conscious, and are excellent team players,” said Hamberger. “Those characteristics that make for a successful military career also make for a successful railroad career.”

For more information about railroad jobs or the people behind the freight rail industry, see the “Faces of Freight Rail” at www.aar.org.