Railroad Jobs in Iowa – The Ultimate Guide

Are you looking for railroad jobs in Iowa? Today is your lucky day because many big players dominate the state’s railroads. There is seven Class I railways in America, and Iowa houses five of them. These include CSX, Canadian National, Norfolk Southern, Soo Line Railroad, and Union Pacific.

Class Is serves more than 80% of the state’s miles of tracks. Thus, you have a better chance of scoring an excellent railroad job at a reputable company.

And that’s not all. Iowa has a few regionals, more than a dozen shortlines, and passenger trains too.

All in all, the state holds 42 freight railways running through 4,273 miles of track.

In other words, you have so many companies to choose from. If you’re just starting, Iowa is a fantastic foundation. You have the chance to explore and expand your options.

Speaking of options, we’re here today to explore all of yours. This post discusses the railroad industry and the companies you can work for. We also state some tips on railroad job hunting. Let’s get started.

railroad jobs in Iowa

The Impact of Railroads on Iowa’s Economy

Iowa holds an inspiring story of how railroads came to be.

Rivers were the primary mode of transportation before the advent of railways. Because of this, steamboats were the preceding form of transportation. Midwestern commerce depended heavily on the Mississippi River to transport goods.

But, more and more people were moving westward. Because of this, they needed a better transportation system.

Iowa’s first railroad commenced in 1851. This railroad mainly connected the East of Iowa to the west.

Four railroad corporations received large allocations of land from the federal government. As a result, these companies started constructing their railroads. These railroads mainly linked the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.

And because of these newly built trains, more agricultural transportation took place. Trains hauled farm goods to Chicago. From here on out, it was history.

As the railroad network expanded, so did several Iowa economies of communities. Many towns sprang up alongside railroads. There were also fuel stations and depots left and right.

Not only did the railway celebrate its glory days. The farmers and the rest of the state did too.

Farmers benefited from the economic boom facilitated by railroads. They could get their goods to the market efficiently and affordably. Moreover, grains hauled in hopper trains moved faster than ever.

As of today, Iowa’s railways transport a wide range of goods. These include food, chemicals, and agricultural products.

Furthermore, the railroad sector increased employment. From conductors to yardmasters, it elevated the lives of many individuals. And you can be a part of it, too!

railway worker climbing a ladder

Things To Know Before Applying For Railroad Jobs

  • Your Goals. Railroad personnel are responsible for ensuring the safe operation of trains. They could operate the locomotives, coordinate the functions, or manage the rail switches. Do you have a specific position in mind? If not, consider your capabilities. This way, you can also narrow down your options for work.
  • Work Schedules. A railroad worker’s schedule may encompass evenings, weekends, and holidays. This is usually the case for Class I railroads.
  • Qualifications. Diversity is one of the best things about working for the railroad. You don’t need to have a college degree. But, most railroad jobs require a high school certificate or GED. Some positions also need on-the-job training that may take up to a year.
  • Salary. As of May 2022, the average compensation for a railroad employee is $48,600. It is possible to earn much more or significantly less based on various criteria. These include educational and professional experience, qualifications, and credentials.

Where To Find Railroad Jobs in Iowa

There are three primary classes of railroads in Iowa. These are the Class Is, IIs, and IIIs. Note that there is no “best” railroad class regarding job hunting. Classes are only categorized by their revenue. In some cases, these classes may differ in job demands. Ultimately, it’s up to you to figure out which suits you best.

Without further ado, here are the railroad companies you can work for in Iowa.

freight trains in iowa

Class I Railroad Jobs in Iowa

Out of all the classes, these pay the most. Class I railroad companies pay their employees well. Besides that, they also offer benefits like retirement plans.

But, most class I jobs are also demanding. You may work at least 12 hours a day, depending on your position. This doesn’t mean you won’t get any rest, though. Federal laws mandate rest hours for railroaders.

Some companies also assign employees to different locations. Because of this, you might be away from home often.

BNSF Railway

BNSF, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, employs more than 47,000 people. The company holds more than 32,000 miles of track. The company also operates in 28 U.S. states and provinces in Canada.

The BNSF Railway is one of the significant freight railways in North America, serving approximately 10,000 clients. Those who work in this field deliver items and goods that improve the lives of their customers.

Did you know that coal carried by BNSF powers one in every ten houses in the United States? Apart from this, they also haul grain and intermodal freights.

Learn more about BSNF’s employee benefits by clicking here.

Grand Trunk (Canadian National)

Founded in 856, this company’s central line is a Canadian line. This line initially travelled in Montreal and Toronto. Subsequently, the Grand Trunk Railway was appointed the rail link between Ontario and Quebec.

The Grand Trunk Railway completed its last Montreal and Portland route in 1853. From then on, it was the first international railroad in North America.

Learn more about Grand Trucks job openings by clicking here.

Norfolk Southern

The corporation mainly transports raw materials, intermediary commodities, and final items via rail. Their primary travel routes are in the south, east, and midwest. It also connects the majority of the nation by rail interchange. Moreover, Norfolk Southern regularly handles international cargo through ports.

View all job opening from N.S. by clicking here.

Union Pacific

The Union Pacific primarily operates freight and railroad. It’s also a franchise, making Union Pacific Railroad Co its primary operating entity. Agriculture, automobile, chemicals, and manufacturing goods are all part of their mix.

This company provides a wide range of perks to its union workers. This includes health insurance and financial security.

View all job opening from Union Pacific by clicking here.

an approaching freight train in iowa

Regional Railroad Jobs in Iowa

These railroads have more forgiving schedules. If you’re not apt to work long hours, you might find a job for you here. Moreover, regionals can offer you more experience if needed.

Dakota, Minnesota & Eastern Railroad (Canadian Pacific Railway)

Rail transportation company DME is a Canadian Pacific Railway unit (C.P.) unit. Their trains run through Dakota, Minnesota, and the Northern Plains of America. Additionally, their railroad stretches to Nebraska, Wyoming, and Illinois.

Iowa Interstate Railroad

This company operates 300 miles of the Chicago-Council Bluffs main route. Iowa Interstate Railroad had very humble beginnings. A few years ago, they only transported a number of goods yearly. But now, the IIR carries more than a hundred thousand a year. Moreover, it also links to all the Class I railroads. This is definitely a big step — only a few regional railroads can achieve this.

To learn more about available positions, visit their website. Click here.

Iowa, Chicago & Eastern Railroad (Canadian Pacific Railway)

In the Midwest, ICE is a regional railroad that transports passengers and freight. Cedar American Rail Holdings owns the business with the Dakota, Minnesota, and Eastern Railway. Together, they form the most extensive U.S. class II railroad system. Additionally, their trains haul various goods like coal, chemicals, and steel.

Contact the company directly for job openings. You can also find C.P.’s website by clicking here.

aerial view of freight trains

Shortline and Terminal ​​Railroad Jobs in Iowa

As the saying goes, “tiny but mighty”. This is the case with shortline railroads. These may be small in size. But, they don’t fall short of economic benefits and career opportunities. A large portion of the country’s economy depends on them.

Shortlines offer end-to-end mile service. This means that they provide vital customer service to ensure a flawless flow of goods.

You should not be intimidated by the jobs on the railroad. But, if you want to get your feet wet, you can try shortlines. Moreover, these jobs can also add some experience to your CV.

Appanoose County Community Railroad

Service on this shortline first commenced in 1983. Centerville and Albia are separated by 35 miles of this system’s present route. It incorporates elements of:

  • The old Wabash
  • A portion of the historic Rock Island
  • A defunct branch of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy

Burlington Junction Railway

There are four short terminal lines on this railroad. You can find these lines in Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa. The company commenced in 1985 and transported roughly 3,000 goods yearly. For more job opening information, contact them directly.

Visit their website by clicking here.

Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway

The Cedar Rapids & Iowa City Railway commenced in 1904. Back then, they were referred to as the “CRANDIC Route.” The company was profitable as a freight line after all passenger service was halted in 1953. It now runs 60 miles of track between its own property and the old Milwaukee Road.

Contact the company directly for job openings.

D&I Railroad

L.G. Everist, Inc. owns the Dakota & Iowa Railroad. This shortline railroad runs from Sioux and Dells. Moreover, they have a branch in Beresford. All in all, they have 138 miles of track.

If you want to know more about their job openings, click here.

Iowa Northern Railway

This shortline provides transportation to companies in North Central Iowa and Cedar Rapids. It is a privately controlled company that offers a flexible framework. This shortline connects Iowa’s industrial and agricultural regions to the railway system.

Iowa Northern serves Manly Terminal as their carrier. It is a storing and translating plant for chemicals. It also services biofuel-producing businesses that handle biofuels and co-products in the USA.

You can apply directly to their website. Click here to fill out an application form.

Iowa River Railroad

This shortline provides freight transportation between Ackley to the U.S. Highway.

There is no information about job openings online. But, you can contact Iowa River Railroad directly.

train station at iowa

Start Your Railroad Career in Iowa

There’s always room for someone like you in the Iowa railroad sector. You’re sure to find something for you with the abundance of companies and railroads.

But, keep in mind that no job comes easy. While there are benefits to the railroad, there will also be challenges. But, if you work hard enough, it will be worthwhile. You get to do what you love while earning a lot. Plus, you receive great benefits. And finally, you get to be a part of an incredibly growing economy.

You will never stop learning and improving in this business. This is especially true if you really want a career in the railroad. We could go on and on about the benefits of working for the railroad sector. However, we’ll let you experience it yourself once you score the job! And we’re sure that you will.

If you’re still on the hunt for opportunities, let us help you. We have a list of railroad jobs per state. Click here if you want to learn more.

And if you want to learn more about the industry, we also have some articles for you.

That finally concludes railroad jobs in Iowa. We wish you the best of luck on your railroad journey!

Frequently Asked Questions

What job on the train has the highest salary?

The highest-paying position in the railroad industry is the Director of Engineering (DOE). This position supervises the railway’s engineers. They also earn $130-150,000 yearly.

How does one get employment on a railroad?

The majority of rail firms demand a high school education or its equivalent. This is especially true for conductors or locomotive engineers. Additionally, locomotive engineers need training spanning from two to three months.

How would you describe the work of a train conductor?

A train conductor gets to travel the nation and make money. Along the side, they also receive good benefits from the company they work for.

Do you need a specific qualification before applying to the railroad?

Yes. You need a PTS or Personal Track Safety certification. Some say that this is challenging to acquire. However, once you get one, your application will be smooth-sailing.

Does it take long to become a train conductor?

This highly depends on your experience. However, some railroad companies offer paid on-the-job training. This training is usually done in a college or railroad school.