Railroad Conductor Schools and Training Programs: How to Choose

While many conductors learn on the job in entry-level rail yard positions, some attend technical schools and complete railroad conductor programs that will give them the hands-on, practical experience needed to land a job with a rail company.

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Railroad conductor programs are available at a variety of two- and four- year schools. Programs typically offer a certificate or associate's degree.

10 Schools with Railroad Conductor Programs

The following schools offer railroad conductor programs:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered Tuition (2015-2016)*
Dakota County Technical College Rosemount, Minnesota 2-year, Public Certificate $5,713
Johnson County Community College - National Academy of Railroad Science Overland Park, Kansas 2-year, Public Certificate
Associate's
$2,730 In-district
$3,180 In-state
$6,420 Out-of-state
International Air and Hospitality Academy - Northwest Railroad Institute Vancouver, Washington Less than 2-year, Private for-profit Certificate $13,925
Michigan Technological University Houghton, Michigan 4-year, Public Bachelor's
Master's
Doctoral
$14,286 In-state
$30,250 Out-of-state
Colorado State University - Pueblo Pueblo, Colorado 4-year, Public Master's Graduate: $4,741 In-state
$14,096 Out-of-state
Coastal Pines Technical College Waycross, Georgia 2-year, Public Diploma
Certificate
Associate's
$4,770 In-state
$8,775 Out-of-state
Gateway Community College New Haven, Connecticut 2-year, Public Associate's $4,032 In-state
$12,096 Out-of-state
Tarrant County College Fort Worth, Texas 2-year, Public Certificate $1,320 In-district
$2,064 In-state
$4,920 Out-of-state
University of Denver Denver, Colorado 4-year, Private not-for-profit Master's Graduate: $43,164
Sacramento City College Sacramento, California 2-year, Public Certificate
Associate's
$1,104 In-state
$7,440 Out-of-state

Source: *NCES College Navigator

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School Selection Criteria

Railroad conductors are in charge of rail operations, scheduling, recording and monitoring the traveling cargo or passengers and overseeing safety. When choosing a railroad conductor school, student considerations should include the following:

  • Students should decide how much time they are willing or able to invest in the training program, as they may require on-call, on-the-job training.
  • Students may want to check job postings from potential employers to see what type of training program they require before making their decision.
  • While conductors don't generally need to be licensed, prospective students may want to check with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for any additional state certification or licensure requirements for conductors and look for schools and training programs that will meet these requirements (www.fra.dot.gov).
  • Candidates might want to find schools that offer hands-on experience with train equipment, such as train simulators and sample train tracks, and also provide students with internships at local and national railway lines for added experience.

Certificate in Railroad Conductor Technology

Some technical schools and community colleges offer certificate programs in railroad conductor technology. These programs typically take 1-2 years to complete and include an internship or work experience as part of the graduation requirements.

Associate of Applied Science in Railroad Operations

Associate degrees pertaining to railroad transportation may not be as easily accessible as certificate programs or on-the-job training by railroad companies. That being said, these few associate programs take up to two years to complete and include meeting all college general education requirements. Conductors are taught how to work with timetables and work orders as well as coupling trains and switching cars.

Railroad conductor training programs are available at the certificate and associate's degree levels. These programs emphasize railroad operations and safety.

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