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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:02 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
Listen to Kelly. Get trained in a trade, you'll be way more valuable to any preservation outfit, and be able to support yourself and a family, too.

I'm at the other end of my working life, hoping in a couple years to be able to volunteer full time.. :-) But back when I was graduating high school, I had some thoughts of working full time on restoration work, I already had a trade; Dad was a carpenter and I had been working with him on side jobs since I was nine or ten, so I was looking more at coach restoration, or building restoration. But when I actually looked around, one overriding thing became evident; there is no money in railroad preservation. Look at what we are always discussing here - the PRR K4 was being restored, then it stopped. C&O 1308 is being restored, then it stopped. To us, these stoppages due to lack of funds are disappointing, but to the guys doing the work, they mean they are out of a job.

If it was me, and I didn't already have a trade, I'd get trained as a welder, up to the point that I had a pipeline certification. You'd be valuable in a steam shop, even without the cert, but with the cert, you'd be worth sponsoring for a boiler welding cert. And, if you get laid off, you can always spend some time on a pipeline gang, and really lay in the bucks... then you can go back and have a "vacation" working on trains again for a while.

Until you get married :-)

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:38 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 57
"Get trained in a trade, you'll be way more valuable to any preservation outfit"

yeah! who needs those unskilled operations guys right?

A good tour guide who is passionate about what they do is EXTREMELY valuable to a railroad museum. As is a good Passenger Conductor, Ticket Agent, Car Host, Fireman, etc. ALL the jobs are extremely important and should be viewed as valuable.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:03 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8399
Location: Baltimore, MD
A lot of the people so far have been discussing hands-on trade work. There's a reason for that: The U.S., if not the whole Western world, is all but shaming hands-on mechanical trade work out of existence, and we're fast running out of such talent in reasonably intelligent people with the necessary work ethic.

But I will caution: Not everyone's cut out for it. Tradesmen and handymen make LOTS of money from well-paid technical writers, administrators, etc. that could burn down and flood a house with just a screwdriver and could find a way to destroy a car with a simple screw. IF you do not have the aptitude or coordination for it, there exist other options.

The vast majority of rail preservation operations with any paid staff employ a "general manager" or "executive director." These are people tasked with administrative duties--making sure all the necessary duties are fulfilled, the jobs are done, the supplies are ordered, the grant applications and bureaucratic forms are filed on time, etc., and it's not even important for them to know whether the steamer came from the Union Pacific or the Nothing Specific RR. Right now, we don't have a lot of those that I know of out there that are railroad specialists--they've come to their operations from places like a Civil War museum or a "this old house" museum--and the ones that I have seen that were outright rail enthusiasts first have moved on up to bigger and better things in state archives, national-level/Smithsonian museums, etc.--because that's where the money is, and the pressures of careers, raising a family, or paying off student loans forces such career tracks. And be advised that every short line or excursion line CEO/executive eventually ends up swinging a spike maul or doing other grunt work, because every person has to be a "jack of all trades" in this field.

If your intellect is such that you should be pursuing a bachelor's degree in history or even a master's in Museum Studies rather than certification in welding, diesel technology, or electronics, that's a consideration as well. However, the costs of such a degree in 2020 versus when most of us did it should give anyone severe pause. You're more likely to make more money faster with a mechanic's certification and a CDL than with a history degree, no matter how skilled you may be.

Good luck, son. Someday, all of this may be yours--hey, wait, don't run away!!!


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:45 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
The reason many of us are advising getting a trade is that the young man made no mention of going to college; it sounds like he plans to go to work as soon as he graduates, and in today's world, that is a recipe for disaster.

And, not to be demeaning or dismissive of ticket sellers or gift shop clerks, or even operating personal, but many of those jobs are filled out of the local labor pool, the same people who man the counter at Starbucks or Seven Eleven... except those jobs are year round, while most tourist railroad jobs are seasonal. That means he'll need some way to make a living during the off season. With a trade, he'll either work all year in the shop, ot be able to find well paying work elsewhere.

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:40 am 
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Joined: Sat Aug 28, 2004 1:15 pm
Posts: 1262
Location: Henderson Nevada
As a paid director of a railroad museum, previously a paid director of a house museum... (both in government owned institutions) In museums, we pay for skills that we cannot get volunteers to fill...

Tour guides, car attendants are volunteer positions...

Administrators, managers, volunteer coordinators are paid positions... Janitors, ground keepers, and ticket booth may be paid, but generally at minimum wage...

There is paid work in repair and restoration (craft trades), particularly if you are managing the program. This is a nitch... with some skills, like old school machining are skills which are not main stream, but are valuable in a museum environment... But are paid at a lower wage in museums than in the world at large.

There are skills that are needed... Historians, with historic preservation subsets... Administrators, willing to work in a government or non-profit environment. Both require a 4 year degree or more often a graduate degree...

As a musuem Director I will spend 23 days straight at Christmas running our holiday trains... much of this not compensated... this is the reality of the museum world... I will empty trash cans, clean bathrooms as needed...

You need to understand the decisions you are making.. Railroad preservation can be a career, but its real work, mostly not about trains...

Randy

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Director, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Boulder City, Nevada
http://museums.nevadaculture.org/nsrmbc
http://www.nevadasouthern.com/
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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:15 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:24 pm
Posts: 103
And most importantly, in any field, you must have a good work eithic. Develop it, master it, show up early, do the crap jobs nobody wants. Without a good work ethic, you won't last long anywhere. If it's an option for you, I would recommend holding down a part time job for as long as you can while in highschool.

If the trades are for you, I think you'll find there are many opportunities closer to home that pay MUCH better. (Traveling welders and boilermakers on a powerplant shutdown can walk home with$3-5k a week).

As you mature through highschool, I think you'll find that there are better opportunities outside of railroad preservation. As Randy said, it ain't all it's cracked up to be. It's hard work, and it pays little compared to other fields. Its also not always the best idea to make your part time hobby into a full time career.

But if that's your dream, it's possible...


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:09 am 

Joined: Thu May 05, 2016 6:30 pm
Posts: 97
Location: Illinois
To be honest, I don't really care how much money I make. In fact, I would love to be involved in an operation for the rest of my life. Retirement would be nice, but it wouldn't really be much different because I would just volunteer at a museum or tourist line (maybe the same one I got paid at) as much as I could and use the same skills I would have used before retirement.

I also don't care what job I do, although last evening I had an email conversation with a teacher about the possibility of me taking some shop classes next year, and I also did some research on some possible welding classes too.

I have very low standards for this field of work. Basically, it all comes down to this: janitor or road foreman of engines, I don't care. As long as I get to be paid to be around historic trains, I'm in.

Thomas Dyrek

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:49 am 

Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2017 12:39 am
Posts: 11
Love for the business and the history of it all is nice, but there are a few harsh realities.

1. There's going to come a day where you will have to support yourself. Likely there will be a day where you have to support someone else too, be that a spouse or your own parents. You'll care how much you are paid then.

2. There are going to be days where you do not like trains all that much. There have been days of firing where it has been below freezing and pouring rain the whole day. I can't say I enjoyed those terribly much.

3. You're going to want to retire one day.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:45 am 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2126
Location: Northern Illinois
RookieFireman wrote:

3. You're going to want to retire one day.


And, with the general lack of pension plans these days, and continual projections that Social Security will be broke in twenty years, unless you have had a good paying job and have been able to salt away some bucks in a 401K plan, you won't be able to retire, much less volunteer. You'll work as a greeter at Walmart 'til the day you die.

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:59 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1250
Location: Strasburg, PA
RookieFireman wrote:
Love for the business and the history of it all is nice, but there are a few harsh realities.

1. There's going to come a day where you will have to support yourself. Likely there will be a day where you have to support someone else too, be that a spouse or your own parents. You'll care how much you are paid then.

2. There are going to be days where you do not like trains all that much. There have been days of firing where it has been below freezing and pouring rain the whole day. I can't say I enjoyed those terribly much.

3. You're going to want to retire one day.

Listen to the post above, it is all true. Even with the best job in the world, by the time you are in your thirties, the blush will be off the rose, and getting so dirty that your teeth are dirty (been there), or dragging rerailing frogs around in the snow for two hours after you can't feel your feet (done that) isn't the thrill it was in your twenties. And that doesn't count having a boss that you don't get along with, which could have you hating your job within the first month.

Regardless of what career you choose, you want to make enough to invest the max every year in an IRA and/or a 401K. You will be happy you did.

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C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:01 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 525
Trainkid456 wrote:
To be honest, I don't really care how much money I make. In fact, I would love to be involved in an operation for the rest of my life. Retirement would be nice, but it wouldn't really be much different because I would just volunteer at a museum or tourist line (maybe the same one I got paid at) as much as I could and use the same skills I would have used before retirement.

I've been told that an employer cannot let an employee do the same work as a volunteer that he/she does as a paid employee. Employees have to be paid for all such work that they do to benefit the employer.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:26 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 743
Location: Tucson, Arizona
I was fortunate to get hired on at Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum. Most of our paid staff were tradesmen and virtually all of our paid staff were train operations qualified. They were used for train service when the volunteer pool didn't meet operations requirements. During the week-often a seven day work week during the peak season-I might work two days as a ticket agent and five days on the train. Our starting positions for paid labor were passenger trainman. From there, you determined whether you wanted to go to engine service or not.

While shop time was not required, it was encouraged. I often worked in the shop as an assistant to the tradesmen. If you were willing to learn, they were willing to teach. Now I am in a management position with another museum organization and we are working with the local school district to encourage maintenance of trade instruction in the schools. For the past couple of summers, we have been using student labor on restoration projects as paid interns. The students work under supervision, using the skills they have learned and learning new methods.

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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:21 pm 

Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:45 pm
Posts: 119
Crescent-Zephyr wrote:
"Get trained in a trade, you'll be way more valuable to any preservation outfit"

yeah! who needs those unskilled operations guys right?

A good tour guide who is passionate about what they do is EXTREMELY valuable to a railroad museum. As is a good Passenger Conductor, Ticket Agent, Car Host, Fireman, etc. ALL the jobs are extremely important and should be viewed as valuable.


While I agree wholeheartedly that passionate tour guides/trainmen/car hosts are underrated the number of operations that have those people on staff full time so that people can make a living off of it might be zero. With almost all tourist railroads being seasonal operations. Someone expecting to put in a 40 hour work week in both tourist season and the off season would need additional mechanical skills. I would be interested in hearing from people with more experience in that area however.


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:09 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 743
Location: Tucson, Arizona
TVRM's core staff was full time when I was there. There were always projects going on, be it company work such as heavy repairs to rolling stock or contract work. They also acquired a sheet metal firm that was closing due to the owner retiring. My understanding is that that shop is operated as a commercial venture and does work for the railroad as needed. TVRM is a fairly unique operation, having a full shop complex including an on site blacksmith forge (owned and operated by a separate organization in cooperation with TVRM).

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"When a man runs on railroads over half of his lifetime he is fit for nothing else-and at times he don't know that."- Conductor Nimrod Bell, 1896


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 Post subject: Re: Museums/tourist lines with a paid staff
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:15 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
Posts: 45
The toughest thing for a young person to decide, is what kind of job they want to do when they get out of school. You do have a goal, which is more then a lot of kids have. But you need a plan. I would suggest you go talk to a school counselor. They can help you decide what you would be good at. Shop classes would help, too. You'll naturally want a career or profession that also translates into a job at a tourist railroad or museum. You could go to a trade school or collage and then find a regular "day job" near a railroad you might want to work at. And then volunteer until an opening comes up. BEFORE you get married and have children. One of my daughters could not leave the area and had to change her major in college, otherwise she would have had to move back east to find a job. My other daughter never wanted to live here, so she's a nurse and not married and can live anywhere she wants (somewhere cold and snowy). That's my two cents worth, I know young people don't want to be preached to. Remember, you can learn something from each job you have that will help you in your next job and you can learn something from anybody, if you listen. Tom


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