Many Roads Lead to a Career in Transportation

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There are many routes to a career in the booming industry of transportation. Degrees in business management and administration, information and web technology and engineering are among the many areas of study that can lead to jobs. RCC offers degrees in all of these fields.

For example, Gerald C. Francis, the Deputy General Manager of Keolis Commuter Services in Boston, graduated with a degree in business administration from Creighton University where he majored in marketing and minored in management. He started his career as Safety Manager for the Union Pacific Railroad, then over the next three decades moved on to work as an operations manager, human resources training specialist, and transportation supervisor/controller before moving onto senior management. There he served in a variety of roles including assistant vice president of rail operations, assistant vice president of business development and general manager.

Francis’ fascination with transportation began when as a boy he wondered why the rail cars stayed on the tracks. Looking back on his career path, Francis says, “Your starting point isn’t always the ending point. You must have a vision of where you want to go and how you are going to get there.”

Senior management was his goal. So to prepare, Francis studied the trade publications for the transportation industry to keep up with trends, asked plenty of questions, worked long hours and even joined Toast Masters to improve his public speaking and enhance his leadership skills.

Today, in his role as Deputy General Manager for Keolis Commuter Services in Boston, Francis helps to manage the MBTA commuter rail system, the sixth busiest in the nation. In Greater Boston, for the Commuter Rail Service, Keolis operates more than 500 trains per day, over 14 lines, 671 track miles and carries more than 130,000 passengers per day.

Employment Outlook 

The transportation industry employs some 10 million people in the U.S. and is currently seeking to develop a pipeline of younger workers to help employers meet their future workforce needs. Specifically, employers are looking to help high school, technical school and community college graduates successfully enter the field. There are also opportunities for training programs and certifications to help close the skills gap.

Railroad Salaries

The median annual wage for all railroad occupations was $52,400 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $35,400, and the top 10 percent earned more than $76,220.

Median wages for specific railroad occupations in May 2012 were as follows:

$54,700 for conductors and yardmasters

$52,280 for locomotive engineers

$51,340 for brake, signal, and switch operators

$44,920 for locomotive firers

$41,230 for rail yard engineers, dinkey operators, and hostlers

Data from Bureau of Labor Statistics

Railroad Conductor: $54,900 (

Railroad Brake, Signal, and Switch Operators: $49,600 (

Locomotive Engineer: $62,808 (

Train Dispatcher: $38,000 (

Yardmaster: $32,000 (

Yardmaster’s Trainee: $195.20/day (

Source:   The Railroad network


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