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Can a Felon Work for the Railroad?

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Following release from prison, felons want to return to society and resume their lives.

Many who have served a long sentence may not have the best job skills or job history.

Those who are released, after being locked up for so long, spending most of their time inside a confined space, often think of pursuing a job that allows them freedom and the chance to be on the go.

For many, they think of working for the railroad and the opportunity to work outside.

This blog post will cover the question of whether a felon can work for the railroad.

  • Requirements to Work for the Railroad
  • Important Factors for Felons
  • Making Their Case for Employment
  • Supporting a Felon in Working for the Railroad


Requirements to Work for the Railroad

There are certain standard requirements for those who want to work for the railroad whether or not they have a felony.

Applicants for a position with the railroad must:

  • Have a high school diploma or GED
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be able to lift 75 pounds
  • Have a valid driver’s license
  • Have no more than one job termination “for cause” in the past seven years
  • Have no DUI’s in the past two years
  • Be able to pass vision and hearing exams

Applicants can be disqualified for:

  • Not disclosing a felony conviction
  • Not passing a required strength test
  • Inability to pass an aptitude test if required

Qualifications considered to be important for railroad workers include:

  • At least three years working with heavy equipment
  • Strong and alert
  • Reliable and detail-oriented
  • Enjoy working outside
  • Able to follow rules and procedures
  • Concerned with safety of themselves and others
  • Able to stay organized and keep things in order
  • Enjoy working with their hands
  • Able to work independently or with a team
  • Competent in math, reading, and basic computer skills
  • Willing and able to complete full-time training at the National Academy of Railroad Sciences (NARS) in Overland Park, KS.

Among the essential jobs with the railroad are positions as a conductor, switchman, or freight car repairman.

A conductor’s job is to supervise over-the-road operations of freight trains.  A conductor inspects equipment on cars before departure and maintains compliance with train orders, signals, and rules and regulations along with working with customers in placing their freight cars at their locations.

A signalman is responsible for construction and maintenance of a railroad’s signaling system.  They work to keep transportation personnel and the public safe during a train’s travel.

A freight car repairman is responsible for making certain the railroad cars are properly maintained and meet safety standards.  There is always a need for freight car repairmen.

Each railroad company has its own set of rules for applying, either online or mailing in an application.

Once an application has been received, those being considered will be called for an interview.  In addition to an interview, applicants may have to complete physical tests of strength and cardiovascular fitness.

When going for an interview, suggestions for a successful applicant are to emphasize any education or experience that is relevant to a position.

Also, references must be provided along with a background check usually consisting of a criminal and credit check being conducted before a job will be offered.

Important Factors for Felons

Typically, the railroad will seek any convictions in the past seven years and any imprisonment in the past five years.

According to EEOC guidelines, the following factors will be considered for felons who apply:

  • The length of time since the conviction
  • The circumstances of the crime
  • The number of convictions
  • The employment record since the conviction
  • Felony conviction of a serious crime, such as murder, rape, theft, assault with a deadly weapon, aggravated assault, child molestation, spousal abuse, drug distribution, or other serious crime within the past seven years

Each railroad company has different hiring policies, established by that company.

Making Their Case for Employment

Felons must take their situation seriously and have a goal of working for the railroad.  No, it won’t be easy to get hired.

But there is an opportunity available to those who want it.

Doing the things that it will take to reach that goal and get that railroad job will be challenging, but what hasn’t been since leaving prison?

Felons need to be willing to do what it takes.

Seeking expungement or sealing of their records can pay big dividends.

They can go through a re-entry program or get further education and training to get the knowledge and skills they need.

The Guide to Getting Employed is available to those who want that goal.  There are stories of success and tips for presenting themselves in a favorable light.

When it comes to their employment record, having a quality resume is essential.

Supporting a Felon Wanting to Work for the Railroad

For families of felons wanting to work for the railroad, take the time to help your loved one in their efforts to get further education or training.

Support them in returning to society and finding a way to succeed and make a difference.

An earlier blog post showed felons make good employees.

The railroad needs quality employees.  There is no reason why felons can’t be that quality employee.  Be there for your loved one as they work to be one of those who doesn’t return to prison within two years.

What do you think about this blog post?  Are you or someone you know been in the situation of trying to get a job with the railroad with a felony?  What was that like for them, and how did they achieve success?  Please tell us in the comments below.

1 thought on “Can a Felon Work for the Railroad?”

  1. Hello
    I have been out of prison for 4 years now and reestablish myself pretty well with alot of help of Great people who believed in me….i really would like the opportunity to work for the rail road ….i have obtained a class a cdl with all endorsements except. Haz mat which i am trying to obtain now to better my chances for a better job….if anyone could give me some info on how to get into rail road with a past felony record…..i would be grateful
    Humbly …Aaron Eschman


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