Railroad Jobs in Montana – Ultimate Guide

Montana is unquestionably one of the most beautiful states in the USA. It’s a region of extensive open grasslands, awe-inspiring mountains, and lovely ranch communities.

Most importantly, there is also a great selection of railroad jobs in Montana.

Let’s check them out.

railroad jobs in montana

But, despite all its grandeur, most railroad jobs in Montana are restricted to just two Class Is.

These are Union Pacific and BSNF, BSNF alone already takes up 59% of Montana’s rail miles.

You still have a good chance of scoring a Class I job. Besides that, Montana houses some regionals too. These are the Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad, and renowned MRL.

And finally, Montana is also home to a number of shortlines. The Empire Builder and Amtrack run through the state as well.

Therefore, you have a good selection of employment options in the state.

All in all, Montana runs more than 3,000 miles of track. Compared to many other states, Montana has smaller trackage. But, the state has a very reputable railroad history.

Montana has long been known for their wide-open spaces for trains. They’re also known for agricultural and grain cargo. And until today, it accounts for a good percentage of freight volume too.

Today, we present you with the ultimate job hunting guide. We’ll be going over all your options for railroad jobs in Montana. This way, it will be much easier for you to know who to reach out to.

And before that, we go over the condition and impact on the Montana railways. We also address some good tips you should know before job seeking.

Are you ready? Let’s get into it.

The Montana Railroads: Economic Impact and Significance

The government secured an accord on an amended NAFTA in 2019. This imported the stability and benefits of free trade. Montanans benefit greatly from the state’s active engagement in global commerce.

Without it, farmers, miners, and manufacturers lose trade to global markets. The continued expansion and prosperity of Montana’s economy depend on strong foreign commerce.

Since Montana has no seaports, Montana needs a solid rail and road transport infrastructure. And that’s where Montana’s railways shine.

Montana’s railway freight system offers the connection the state needs. The sector effectively reaches key markets in the United States and throughout the world.

And besides that, it strengthens the economy and promotes job creation. Montana’s exports of goods and services support more than 140,000 employees in the state.

Moreover, there was confirmation about BSNF taking over Montana Rail Link recently. The company will take full control of MRL after the expiring leasing agreement.

This is big and potentially great news! BSNF will continue to retain the line’s reputation for dependability.

Additionally, they will ensure more access to worldwide markets.

And, one of the important parts about it all is that it will retain all of MRL’s 1,200 workers. Once this happens, it is expected that BNSF will have acquired 80% of Montana’s rail infrastructure.

Passenger rail CAN hold big potential too. Big Sky Train Authority estimates that the commuter train system across the North Coast Hiawatha Trail between Chicago and Seattle may generate $40 million in financial benefits for Montana.

With all of these, Montana’s rails clearly have a lot of promise. Working in the industry offers you a reputable, stable, and fulfilling job.

But, before you apply, there are some things you should know. Read on…

cabin in montana near the raiload crossing

Things To Consider Before Applying For Railroad Jobs in Montana

As a newcomer to the sector, it’s important to know what to expect. Working on the railroads is not for everyone. That’s why they are some of the most highly esteemed jobs out there.

First off is the weather. Railroading is a demanding profession in and of its own. The frigid winters of Montana just compound the difficulty.

So, make sure you have a good tolerance for the cold. A lot of your time is required and potentially outside.

Working in Class I typically requires a 12-hour shift day in and day out. On top of that, you’re always on the go. As a result, you’ll be spending a lot of time away from family

But, Class Is pays out some of the best wages in the business. Additionally, they provide generous pension plans. So, the sacrifice is therefore worthwhile.

If you think you’re not cut out for long hours, then aim for shortlines. You have a higher chance of working shorter set hours here.

But, remember pay may not be as generous as a Class I job.

Speaking of pay, the average wage for a Montana railroader is $44,000. Salary estimations can vary, though. It depends on certain aspects like certifications, skills, experience, and more.

Always remember, railroading isn’t a stagnant career. As you grow, your wage does too. It’s not at all surprising for a railroader to earn a 6-digit salary after a few years.

These factors are usually the dealbreakers among potential railroaders. The choice is ultimately yours to make in the end. So, make sure you know yourself and your capabilities before jumping in.

Now, let’s jump into your options, here are all the companies you can apply for in Montana.

open roads in montana near the railroad tracks

Class I Railroad Jobs in Montana

BNSF Railway

From what you’ve read above, you can probably tell that BNSF is a pretty big network. When they finally control the MRL, they will make up for 80% of the state’s rails. But who is BNSF? BNSF stands for Burlington Northern Santa Fe.

The network commenced in the 1970s. When it first launched, it was the country’s biggest railway. And it still is among the country’s best today. The company operates a staggering 32,500 miles of trackage.

Its routes run through 28 states in the USA plus three provinces in Canada!

Learn more about job opportunities by clicking here.

Union Pacific

Next on Montana’s list of Class Is the renowned Union Pacific. Union Pacific (UP) is among the biggest and most influential railroads.

In fact, the network commenced even before the American Civil War broke out. It’s also popular because it was part of the Transcontinental Railroad.

UP has lived through practically every important event of the USA’s railroad history.

In the olden days, it was already one of the nation’s most revered organizations, these days it is classed as one of the Fortune 150 Companies.

Work for the country’s most tried-and-true American companies, learn more about Union Pacificopportunites by clicking here.

cargo containers on montana freight railroad network

Class II Regional Railroad Jobs in Montana

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad

The DMVW is one of the state’s class II regionals. The company commenced in the 1990s. Initially, it operated over the old Soo Line Railroad’s 360-mile network.

Today, it runs more than 500 miles of track and its network also runs Canadia Pacific’s 435-mile of trackage. Apart from this, it also runs from North and South Dakota.

DMVW’s offices are in Bismarck, with other regional offices. Their services include locomotive maintenance, contracting, and transportation.

They also offer maintenance of way and marketing, you can learn more about the company by clicking here.

Montana Rail Link

This network is already defunct, as mentioned earlier. But its history is worth mentioning since it’s very relevant to Montana’s rails today.

Montana Rail Link was a renowned large class II regional network. Its first milestone was taking over a large segment of the Northern Pacific.

MRL had trackage rights all the way to Washington, too. Over its course, it operated more than 900 miles of track.

In early 2022, Class I BNSF announced that it would take over this network. So, if you’ve been eyeing Montana Rail Link jobs, contact BNSF instead.

Class III Shortline, Terminal, and Switching Railroad Jobs in Montana

Butte, Anaconda, and Pacific Railroad

The Butte, Anaconda, and Pacific Railroad have operated since the 1890s. This class III shortline originated in Anaconda.

They underwent some changes in 1967 when the Patriot Rail Company bought the network. This company still owns them today.

Overall, the BA&P BA&P runs a total of 25.7 miles of trackage. Its routes only span from Butte and Anaconda. Moreover, it primarily hauls metals.

Browse Patriot Rail’s website to discover much about employment openings. Click here.

Central Montana Rail Inc.

For the last 30 years, this Moccasin-Geraldine line has been operating on old Milwaukee Road trackage. The majority of Central Montana Rail’s work lies in the agricultural sector.

However, it also provides tours to people on occasion throughout the year. You can find the company’s information on this website.

Mission Mountain Railroad

40 miles of unconnected track are operated by this impressive shortline. The Mission Mountain Railroad has been in service since 2004. So, it’s relatively a new Class III railroad.

Additionally, this railroad is Watco-owned. So, if you’re interested in MMT’s job openings, visit their website. Click here.

Yellowstone Valley Railroad

Last but not least, is yet another Watco-owned shortline. The Yellowstone Valley Railroad commenced in 2005. This shortline runs a total of 170 miles of track.

Their route stretches from North Montana and North Dakota. Today, they mostly haul sand, oil, and the gas industry. See Watco’s site to learn more about employment opportunities.

cargo container trains in montana

Become A Railroader With These Railroad Jobs in Montana!

Lively, promising, and exciting — that’s how we describe Montana’s railroads. There may not be a slew of Class Is in the state like others. But, you still have a lot of options to work with.

BNSF’s new venture might open a lot of possibilities, too. Overall, Montana’s rails pay a strong part of contributing to the economy’s growth.

It’s normal to have disappointments and setbacks when you’re jobhunting. So, if you encounter any, don’t give up!

You’re bound to find a suitable job you keep on keeping on as we always say.

If you’re not set in stone with Montana yet, we can help. We’ve got a list of railroad jobs per state. Click here.

Our website also has some articles about the industry if you want to learn more.

Thatwraps up the railroad jobs in Montana, we wish you the very best in your railroad career!