Railroad Jobs in South Dakota – Ultimate Guide

Are you looking for railroad jobs in South Dakota? You’re on the right track. Railroads in South Dakota are not that plentiful, unfortunately. But, the good thing is that there is two major Class I railroads operating in the area, BNSF and Canadian Pacific. 

Mount Rushmore South Dakota

The state’s rails are not like what they used to be. Since the industry’s height in the 1920s, its mileage has shrunk precipitously. 

They make up most of the state’s mileage. So, these are your best bets for landing a railroad job in South Dakota. 

There is also one class II regional in the state, the Dakota, Missouri Valley, & Western. And finally, South Dakota has a few class III shortlines. 

All in all, South Dakota’s rail totals 10 freight railroads with 1,800 miles of trackage. The state comprises one of the lowest mileage in the country.

But, it’s larger than those of Arizona, Idaho, and New Jersey. 

South Dakota is also renowned as the country’s entryway to the legendary Pacific Coast Extension.

At its peak, the state had over 4,000 miles of track. It’s one of the states that experience one of the most major railroad abandonment.

Sadly, it lost more than 50% of its trackage after World War II.

Nevertheless, South Dakota remains an important supplier of freight today. Economic development in the state is indisputably linked to it. And as a whole, the railroad is a fantastic industry to work in. 

Today, we’re here to help you kickstart your railroad career. In this post, we list down all the railroad companies in South Dakota for you 

We also discuss how the state’s railroads contribute to the economy. This way, you have a greater understanding of the industry. 

And finally, we offer some tips and pointers for just-starting railroaders.

Let’s get started!

railroad jobs in south dakota

Railroads and The Economy Of South Dakota

South Dakota is geographically located in the center of the United States. Due to this, businesses can enjoy quick access to significant states and areas of the country.

Freight in South Dakota utilizes a variety of transport. This includes rail, vans, and trucks, among others. Collectively, these serve as an essential economic driving force for South Dakota.

However, scale is a distinct feature that rails have in comparison to other modes of freight transit. 

For instance, South Dakota’s rails carried approximately 11 million tons of freight in 2019.  According to GoRail, this is equivalent to 6 million extra truck loads. 

This ability also helps in infrastructure preservation and traffic reduction. The state’s rails can divert 6.6 million truckloads off its roads each year.

On top of this, rails can decrease emissions by at least 75%. 

Furthermore, South Dakota’s core business is agriculture. And bulk carriers are needed by farmers to convey their harvests to market. 

When it comes to transporting agricultural goods across vast distances, rail is more cost-effective than trucks.

And finally, railroads offer many employment opportunities.

In addition, there are a number of career options. Among them are engineers, conductors, and yardmasters.

In 2017, there were roughly 1000 railroad workers in South Dakota. Employees in the railroad industry enjoy a wide range of benefits too.  It’s a wonderful industry to work in because of it.

south dakota badlands

Working in The Railroad Industry: Pros, Challenges, and What To Expect 

Are you a newcomer to the railroad industry?

You are probably drawn to all of its splendor. Indeed, the railways provide some of the most beautiful working landscapes.

Moreover, you’ve probably heard about the generous wages and employee benefits.

While these are all true, the railroad isn’t exactly what everyone thinks it is. It has its share of difficulties, just like any other job. Railroading is not for the faint of heart. 

Being a railroader can be physically and mentally grueling, especially in Class I companies. Since Class Is work around the clock, most employees work long shifts. 

Schedules are also unpredictable. The company can call you into work any time, even on weekends and holidays. 

Sometimes, companies move their staff to other posts and locations too. Due to this, expect a lot of time away from your family. It’s a life-changing job. 

But, Class Is pay the best in the business. They generously provide retirement plans, benefits, and programs. Therefore, all your hard work and sacrifice pay off immensely. 

It will reward you even more after years of putting in the work. Over time, senior-level jobs reach up to a six-figure salary.

Click here to learn more about the highest-paying railroad jobs.

You can have more control over your schedule with shortlines and regionals. But, expect lower wages compared to Class I jobs. 

These are what usually make or break one’s decision on working in the industry. Being a railroader requires you to take a look at the bigger picture. In the long run, you really reap the benefits. 

Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide if railroading is something you want to pursue.

Now, let’s take a look at your options for railroad jobs in South Dakota. 

railroad tracks close up

Class I Railroad Jobs in South Dakota

BNSF Railway

The Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway, commonly known as BNSF, has existed since 1995. It is one of seven of the most influential class I railways in North America. 

This class I railroad is the product of more than 400 acquired or consolidated rail lines. 

BNSF’s whole network is comprised of a total of 32,500 miles of trackage. Their locomotives run through 28 states in the country. 

Additionally, this network is one of the leading intermodal freight carriers in the north. 

They are also among the best railroad companies to work for.  BNSF is very well-known to have excellent employee benefits and programs. 

In fact, they were awarded as one of the country’s best employers for women in 2021. And in 2016, they were awarded as one of the best companies to work for in IT. 

Discover your railroading job opportunities at BNSF here. 

Canadian Pacific

This Class I network is the first and oldest transcontinental railroad in Canada. Canadian Pacific has been privately owned since its inception. Canadian Pacific Railway Limited is its owner.

The organization has an astounding 20,100 miles of trackage. Its locomotives traverse seven Canadian provinces as well as the United States. 

Canadian Pacific holds an average rating of 3-3.1 online, based on employee evaluations. 

To read more about their railroad jobs in South Dakota, click here. 

country roads in south dakota

Class II Regional Railroad Jobs in South Dakota

Dakota, Missouri Valley & Western Railroad

The Dakota, Missouri Valley, and Western Railroad or DMWV commenced in the 1990s. They started running through Soo Line’s old North Dakota and Montana route.

As of present, this regional owns 88 miles of trackage, they also lease 435 miles of trackage from Class I Canadian Pacific. 

The DMWV primarily runs through Montana and North Dakota. But, it also stretches all the way to Britton. 

All in all, this regional totals 523 miles of track. 

The company also offers a wide range of employment benefits. This includes standard health insurance, profit sharing, retirement plans, and more. 

You can find railroad job openings and apply directly on their website. Click here. 

Class III Shortline, Terminal, and Switching Railroad Jobs in South Dakota

D&I Railroad

The D&I Railroad is also known as DAIR or the Dakota and Iowa Railroad. This shortline is completely owned by L. G. Everist, Inc. 

It primarily carries ethanol, DDG, corn oil, cement, plastic pellets, and Sioux Quartzite. It travels through Dells Rapids, Sioux City, and Beresford.

The DAIR also has trackage rights with Class I network BNSF. They use these specific lines to tap the southern market. 

Its lines also run through the old Chicago and Northwestern and Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad. 

Overall, this shortline totals 138 miles of trackage. 

Learn more about the company and the railroad jobs on offer by clicking here. 

Ellis & Eastern Co.

This shortline is operated and owned by the  Sweetman Construction Company. The Ellis and Eastern Company, or EE operates on an old CNW track. 

It was initially formed to carry Sioux Quartzite and other goods from Sioux Falls. Moreover, they were only planned to operate for its holding company. 

But eventually, the shortline expanded. Presently, Ellis and Eastern carry a wide range of goods. This includes chemicals, lumber, and grain. 

Overall, this shortline totals 15 miles of trackage. 

Contact the company directly for any employment inquiries. 

farmers in south dakota

Sisseton Milbank Railroad

This shortline is a  Twin Cities and Western Railroad subsidiary. Its tracks run through Milkbank and Sisseton. 

Its tracks also operate over the old Dakota Rail line, which is also an old branch line of the  Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul, and Pacific Railroad. 

This shortline mainly hauls grain to the Milbank area. They also have rail car storage services. 

All in all, the Sisseton Milbank Railroad has 34 miles of trackage. 

Learn more about the company by clicking here. 

Kickstart Your Railroad Career With These Railroad Jobs in South Dakota!

So there you have it! South Dakota has a fair bit of railroad employment altogether. The two main Class I networks provide the most abundant employment possibilities.

But, South Carolina does not have as many regionals and shortlines as other states. But, you still have the opportunity of beginning a successful career here.

Note that job searching isn’t always a piece of cake. Occasionally, the employment situation might be cutthroat or competitive. Additionally, some businesses take longer to respond. But, don’t give up. 

If your heart isn’t completely set on South Dakota, we can help you expand your options. We have a list of railroad jobs per state. Click here. And if you’d want to keep up with the latest railroad news, check back on our site regularly.

That concludes our railroad jobs in South Dakota. We wish you the best of luck in your job search and railroad career!