The Railway Conductor and Operations Program is designed for students seeking a career in the railway industry. The Associate Certificate program focuses on practical skills required for employment within many industrial, short line, with qualifications required to work in a class 1 railway.
At the BCIT Annacis Island campus, students will gain hands-on experience in our dedicated rail yard to expand their understanding of freight/passenger equipment handling, switching cars, making or splitting up trains, or moving cars, sidings, or tracks according to instructions originating with yard, train planners, radio procedures and railway safety.
Students will achieve full Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) and Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) that governs federally regulated railway operations in Canada. Students will learn from industry-based faculty and develop extensive practical skills for a rewarding career.
Costs & Supplies
Taking all three recommended courses (Rail 1001, Rail 1010, and Rail 1020) will provide you with the training requirements, proficiency assessments, and qualifications required to work in the role of a railway conductor at a class 1 railway, or in railway operations.
Graduating & Jobs
The railway industry overall will be facing rates of retirement turnover as high as 70% over the next 8 to 10 years which will result in a demand for graduates. BCIT’s Railway Conductor program prepares graduates for employment in Class 1 railways and shortlines in North America, industrial railways, sidings, and spurs at grain elevators, dockyards, rail suppliers, and regional carriers.
Check on the following links for potential employment:
- BNSF Railway
- Canadian National Railway
- Canadian Pacific
- PNR Railworks
- Railway Association of Canada’s Job Board page
- Southern Railway of BC
- VIA Rail Canada
Graduates can expect good salaries in the starting range of $45,000 – $65,000 per year, and opportunities for advancement to positions of greater responsibility.
For more information visit:
Wonder if the railway conductor career path is the right one for you? Check out the conductor self-assessment below to learn more.
Q: Will I enjoy the working conditions of a Railway Conductor?
A: Standard salary pay scale starts from $45,000 to $65,000 per year, and usually with guaranteed pay on “spare board” work. After gaining a few years of experience (and overtime,) you can expect to earn $80,000 or more per year.
The job may become a lifelong career with opportunities to advance and network in the railway transportation industry spanning across the continent.
The typical employer is a large, seniority-based, unionized organization.
For the first three to seven years, work is 24/7 on-call, mostly on spare board, with two hours of notice. Expect long, odd hours, and shift work including weekends and statutory holidays. Depending on the work location, you may work away from home for up to two days at a time.
Outdoor work could be day or night shifts, in all types of weather conditions. Be prepared to supply your own clothing and dress appropriately for sun, rain, wind, sleet, and snow.
Work is physically demanding. You must be able to lift up to 85 lbs., walk on uneven terrain, and perform work while the train is moving.
Work can be dangerous. You need to be safety-oriented and note that the Conductor is usually the first person who appears at the scene of an accident.
Work on and around large, heavy, moving, and stationary equipment is required.
Work independently or in small teams with little or no supervision
Q: Do I have the skills needed to be a successful Railway Conductor?
A: Excellent verbal and written communication skills to convey accurate information.
Proper hand signals, and clear voice, enunciation, and proper protocols on radio equipment. It is important to note that the use of radio communication is more frequent than face-to-face communication.
Skills such as conflict resolution, coaching, and ability to work with small teams of two to three people, with different co-workers in every shift.
Mechanical and technical aptitude to operate and carry out basic repairs on freight equipment and track appliances.
Commitment to customer service and safe work practices.
Carry out inspections and tests in accordance with railway rules and specifications.
Use and interpret technical documentation, railway terminology, and railway rules and regulation.
Identify and document defects, and make necessary repairs on railway equipment.
Basic computer skills to log data, access information, complete self-training, and operate a computerized locomotive.
Q: What would be required to be employable as a Railway Conductor?
A: A valid class 5 driver’s licence and reliable transportation is an asset as employees are required to arrive at the home terminal within a two-hour call window. Some employers may also require employees to operate company vehicles.
All employers require new employees to undergo a criminal record check. Applicants should ensure that they have the ability to pass a criminal record check or obtain a pardon, prior to entering the program.
All railways have a zero-tolerance policy towards the use of alcohol and drugs. Applicants should be prepared to submit to a mandatory drug and alcohol test upon employment and should expect random alcohol and drug use tests throughout employment. BCIT will enforce the same zero-tolerance policy during training.
There are a number of strict medical rules and requirements that apply to railway employees, and these may exclude certain candidates from employment, for example, colour blindness, and certain prescription medications. Also, there is a mandatory railway medical exam that must be successfully completed upon employment. Please consult Railway Association of Canada website for the Medical Rules Handbook for specific details.
High school graduation or GED required.
Periodic re-certifications and technical training are required throughout employment.
Flexibility to go where the jobs are, with the understanding that jobs may not be in the Lower Mainland, and there may be layoffs in the first years of this career.
This program prepares graduates for employment with Class 1 railways and shortlines in North America, industrial railways, sidings, and spurs at grain elevators, dockyards, rail suppliers, and regional carriers
Q: Do I have the entry requirements for the Railway Conductor program?
- Two years of education in English in an English-speaking country with one of the following:
*Subject to change without notice. Please see the program page for current information.
Q: Will the program work for me?
A: This program consists of three courses, that spread over 13 weeks for six hours per day. Upon graduation, you will be awarded an Associate Certificate in Conductor Operations.
The practicum training provides you with real-life railroading experience.
You will be required to supply your own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) i.e. work gloves, clear protective glasses, and CSA approved 8” high, steel-toed, lace-up boots, with ankle support, and minimum 3/8” heel height at a right angle from the sole.
All three courses require a minimum passing grade to comply with Industry standards:
Rail 1001 – 80% – Non-Main Track Certification
Rail 1010 – 85% – Main Track Certification
Rail 1020 – 80% – Associate Certificate in Conductor Operations
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