When you work on a Union Pacific train crew, you're working at the very heart of our railroad. Train crew employees are responsible for serving our customers by providing the safe, on-time, and on-plan movement of freight trains.
In this entry-level position, you'll start as a Switchperson or Brakeperson, working as on-the-ground traffic control. You do not need any previous railroad experience; we provide all the necessary training.
These jobs directly lead to becoming a Conductor and a Locomotive Engineer, where you will have a rare opportunity to work on board a moving locomotive. The Conductor is responsible for the train, the freight and the crew. The Locomotive Engineer actually operates the locomotive.
Union Pacific operates in 23 states west of the Mississippi River. As a train crew employee, you will be assigned to a specific hub and this will dictate the geographic region in which you will work. You may be required to travel to or be assigned work at any location within that hub. Assignments within the hub are based on seniority.
To view the Union Pacific Service Units, click here.
As a Switchperson or Brakeperson, you will learn to move trains safely in the yards and over the road. Your main responsibilities will be:
- Boarding freight cars
- Applying and releasing hand brakes
- Operating track switches
- Coupling air hoses
- Inspecting cars
- Using radio communications to control train movement.
Work schedule and environment
You will not work a standard 40-hour week. You will have variable work hours with irregularly scheduled days off. Train crew employees are always on-call, even on weekends and holidays and are typically required to report to work within 90 minutes of notification. You'll travel with our trains, sometimes spending a day or more away from your home terminal.
You'll be working outdoors in all weather conditions - including snow, ice, rain, cold and heat - and frequently at elevations more than 12 feet above the ground.
You must wear personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, safety boots, hard hats and hearing protection where the company requires.
Train crew employees are often directly affected by the ever changing needs of our customers. When there is a decline in carloadings, this has a direct impact on the number of employees needed to support the movement of our trains. Should this happen, some employees may be placed on furlough status and will no longer be on the active call list. As work demand increases, individuals will be taken off furlough status as needed. Furloughs are based on seniority.
- You must be at least 18 years old.
- You must speak and read English because you'll be asked to follow posted bulletins, regulations, rule books, timetables, switch lists, etc.
- You must pass a reading comprehension test (see sample) to be considered for an interview.
- You must be able to use a computer keyboard, and you must be able to count and compare numbers. (You might, for example, be asked to count the cars on a train during switching.)
- You must be able to solve problems quickly and react to changing conditions on the job.
- You must have strong vision and hearing, including the ability to: see and read hand signals from near and far; distinguish between colors; visually judge the speed and distance of moving objects; see at night; and recognize changes in sounds.
- You must also be physically strong: able to push, pull, lift and carry up to 25 pounds frequently; up to 50 pounds occasionally; and up to 83 pounds infrequently.
- You'll need good balance to regularly step on and off equipment and work from ladders to perform various tasks.
- You must be able to walk, sit, stand and stoop comfortably.
If You Are Offered a Job
We will conduct a thorough background investigation. This will include your Social Security number, criminal and drug history, past employment, education, professional licenses and certifications, military history, driving record, credit history and any other information relevant to the job.
You must complete a medical history questionnaire, a color vision exam, a physical ability test, a urine drug test and a medical screening to judge whether you are able to perform the essential tasks of the position.
You must also be able to prove that you are a U.S. citizen or that you are authorized to work in the United States.
As a newly hired Train Crew employee, you can expect to earn about $41,000 a year. As you advance to Conductor and Locomotive Engineer positions, you can earn up to $75,000 a year. A Train Crew employee is paid on a trip rate for a yard, local, or thru freight assignment. Your actual pay will depend on location and Union -negotiated agreements.
Health and Wellness Benefits
- Medical coverage starts for the employee and all eligible dependents in the second month of employment.
- Dental coverage starts for the employee and all eligible dependents after one year of service.
- Vision coverage starts for the employee and all eligible dependents after one year of service.
- Pharmacy services starts for the employee and all eligible dependents in the second month of employment.
- Life insurance coverage is available for purchase within first year of employment.
- An unmatched 401(k) thrift plan is available after one year of service.
- Employee pays into Railroad Retirement, a program similar to Social Security (For more information visit www.rrb.gov).
- Paid vacations for the employee depends on qualifications and length of service under the applicable National Vacation Agreements or other negotiated agreements. Vacation selection is based on seniority. Generally the employee will qualify accordingly:
1 year of qualified service 5 days or 1 week
2 years of qualified service 10 days or 2 weeks
8 years of qualified service 15 days or 3 weeks
17 years of qualified service 20 days or 4 weeks
25 years of qualified service 25 days or 5 weeks
- Holidays/personal leave days per applicable collective bargaining agreements.
- Tuition reimbursement after six months of service.
- Employee discounts available on UP's Employee Home Page.
- Free wellness programs.
Potential Career Path
Your first 14 weeks on the job will be dedicated to formal training both in the classroom and in the field. Afterward, you will be assigned to either a switch person, brake person or conductor assignment.
To apply for a position at Union Pacific, select View Open Positions from any page on this site. You will then be able to view a list of open positions by location or by the type of career you're looking for.
If you select "See Open Positions" from a specific job description page – Apprentice Diesel Mechanic, for example – you will see locations where the job is available. Click on the position that you would like to apply for to see the official job description. When you select "Apply online" from this page, your application has officially begun.
Be prepared to spend 20 to 30 minutes completing your application. Have the following information ready:
- Social Security number.
- Employment history, including employer addresses, supervisor names and titles, and salary history.
- Education and training history, including school names and addresses, years completed, and degrees, certificates and licenses received.
- Military history.
- Three professional references.
You will be asked general questions about your background and qualifications for the job. And, if you have a resume in a word processing document, you will have a chance to cut and paste the text of your resume into your application.
After you apply
You can check the status of your application at any time by selecting Application Status on the Career site homepage. Enter your user ID and password, and you will see the status of any applications you have submitted. If your status is "Currently Being Reviewed," you can click on those words to see more details.
When your status is "Currently Being Reviewed," it means that your application has been successfully submitted and now is in consideration with other people who have applied for the same position. Depending on how many applications we receive and the scheduling of hiring sessions, applications could remain at this status for 60 to 90 days, so please be patient and check back often.
If your status immediately says "Thank You," this means that you are not currently eligible for employment at Union Pacific, based on the information you have provided. Several situations can disqualify you from working at Union Pacific:
- You are not at least 18 years old.
- You have a disqualifying condition.
- You have applied for a Train Crew position, but have been convicted of drunken driving in the last three years.
- You have not met a requirement specific to the job or location.
Changing your application
Once an online application is submitted, the only information that can be changed or updated is your contact information (name, address, phone number). If you need to update your contact information please click here. If you are invited to a hiring session, you will be given an opportunity to make other updates to your application before your interview.
Interviewing with Union Pacific
If you have applied for a union position, there are two ways you will be contacted for an interview. First, your web status will be updated to "Invited to Hiring Session." When you click on those words, you will receive the time and location of your interview. Second, you will receive a phone call informing you of the update. When we call you, we use the phone number you supplied on your application. So please make sure it’s a number where you can readily be reached.
If you have applied for a non-union position, you will receive a phone call.
Train Crew applicants will be required to complete a reading comprehension test (see a sample test) before being considered for an interview.
Please wait while Train Crew openings are loading.
This overview may not fully identify or describe all of the job functions or requirements for this position. Please review the official job description when applying. Union Pacific is an Equal Opportunity Employer.