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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 06, 2018 9:22 pm 

Joined: Sat May 07, 2016 1:12 am
Posts: 85
One thing to keep in mind is that most rail museums and tourist lines are all volunteer efforts. That also means there is a lot of cross training going on. The Illinois Railroad museum is a great place to volunteer and learn those 'dying skills'. Like others have suggested it's best to find a regular job and volunteer when you can.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 12:49 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:07 am
Posts: 693
Location: Philadelphia Pa
Brian Norden wrote:
Complete high school and go on from there. I had an instructor that once said that a college degree indicates that you have the perseverance and endurance to complete a long and difficult project.
.


I find that totally amusing. I have worked with many college students and graduates who don't have the endurance or street smarts to find the local convenience store, let alone complete a long and difficult project. Of those, I often questioned how they actually did get accepted to a university let alone how they managed to acquire a degree.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 3:46 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 12:59 pm
Posts: 556
Here's a similar thread from a few months ago:

http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=41407

A couple of thoughts:

1. You are going to have to wait until you are 18 to be employed in a lot of "mechanical" jobs due to federal laws:

https://www.youthrules.gov/know-the-limits/hazards/index.htm

2. My museum (the Western Railway Museum) only has three paid employees (Executive Director, Office Manager, and Plant Manager). These are not entry-level jobs. We rely on volunteers for everything else. Lots of smaller museums probably have fewer paid staff.

3. If you are looking for a full-time job involving mechanical work, a volunteer museum is probably not a good choice. At WRM, we concentrate our shop work (all volunteers) on two days (Wednesdays and Saturdays) because it is dangerous to work alone in a shop. A short-line railroad might be a better choice for this if their shop has other full-time staff, which would mean the shop could operate every workday.

In any case, being skilled at what you ultimately decide to do, having good communications skills, and being able to work well in a group will really help. Good luck!


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:46 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1442
There are hundreds of railroad industry equipment builders and parts suppliers that offer jobs where the skills set is similar to railroad preservation. Sometimes getting a job with an equipment builder only requires writing a thoughtfully worded letter inquiring about work opportunities. If it arrives at their company at a time when they are looking for people to fill job openings, it may result in an invitation to interview. And one nice thing about the equipment building industry is that once you are "in" and build up a network of friends and contacts, it becomes much easier to find similar employment again if there is ever a cutback or layoff at your company.

PC

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Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 11:09 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5486
Location: southeastern USA
Tourist railroads DO hire paid staff. But, be prepared to take the vow of poverty when you go to work for one, much like a museum. That and theme parks are your best bet - once you have worked in the trenches, gone to conventions, met people, and established a network and track record, you will be in a position to start to follow your path. Actually, you learn a lot and become more valuable the more you have broadened your perspective by working in more places with more people doing more things (mechanical and operation rather than academic positions here) - better accomplished while young and single. So, if you want to be shops and hands-on ops, college may be less valuable (assuming you have good basic skills) than not IF you get hired on. Good news - seasonal works well with both theme parts and tourist lines. So, you could get some good trades classes at community college under your belt off season, start with seasonal work in between.

I respect what academically trained people can do - Stathi, for example, managed to find his way through a nightmare of standards controlled by other academics - but you don't need a degree to learn to hostle, fire, brake and make ordinary operating repairs.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:16 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:53 pm
Posts: 137
I would add one suggestion that has only been touched-upon indirectly here:

Get good grades. Right now, your job is to do the best you can in school.

The decision to attend college (or not) is an important one, and should not be taken lightly. But good grades now, will allow for more opportunities down the road, whether that path leads to college or elsewhere.

JR


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2018 6:58 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5486
Location: southeastern USA
And, by the way, you can always decide to go to college no matter how old you are. No problem if you take some time to work and put some $ in the bank after high school before you decide. Many people are now paying off huge student loans who can't find well paying work in their field.

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Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:27 am 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 505
Location: B'more Maryland
Dave wrote:
And, by the way, you can always decide to go to college no matter how old you are. No problem if you take some time to work and put some $ in the bank after high school before you decide. Many people are now paying off huge student loans who can't find well paying work in their field.



This is true. My wife just finished her undergrad a few years ago, and her college experience was MUCH better than it was when we were younger. She got more from it, did better, etc... It really underlined the difference that experience and maturity can make in things.

That said, don't intentionally skip it.

Also, one other thing to throw out there... advice from a former colleague who's a painter. She was doing an artists panel at a local big name art school. She was on the panel with people who were working painters, poets, playwrights, etc... She was the design director at a successful web agency.

All the other people were talking about getting paid for being an artist, and how hard it can be. She said, essentially "I do something related to my passion for a job, but it pays well enough that I can rent a studio, take time off, and pursue my passion for ME".

That's always struck true for me. My day job gives me some skills that are useful for my passions (it's how I built http://conrailphotos.thecrhs.org/), but it ALSO gives me the means to endulge my hobbies and interests outside of it.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 4:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Sep 05, 2004 9:48 am
Posts: 534
Location: Byers, Colorado
Connor,

You've gotten some good advice from some good folks.

My advice, for what it's worth, is: Take shop classes if you can. Go for being trained as a machinist, and for finding work in that field. I'd say that the machinists I've met are about the happiest campers in the working class. You can usually get a job anywhere you live, you're home every night (unlike many RR jobs), you'll be paid and treated well, etc... and, every red blooded American male likes making stuff and working with his hands.

Paid work at a RR museum ??? My advice is to look for paid work at places that PAY, like tourist RRs, real RRs, or machine shops. Tourist RRs may not be quite "the real thing", but in general they have a lot more concept of economic reality than do museums.

Machinists are usually welcome to volunteer at most museums, you won't get lonely. And GOOD LUCK to you.

Take Care & WORK SAFE

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At Your Service,
Sammy KIng


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 5:28 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5486
Location: southeastern USA
And, tourist railroads run more trains than railroad museums do.

_________________
Santayana: "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
Corollary: "He who does is doomed to watch those who don't repeat it anyway."


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:02 pm 

Joined: Wed Jan 20, 2016 1:15 pm
Posts: 159
Theme Park Steam (Disneyland, Disney World, Knott's Berry Farm, Busch Gardens) are good places for year round paid work if you want to be in the engines.

Grand Canyon Railway, Durango, Strasburg are 100% paid crew operations as far as I know. Pretty sure Black Hills Central is too..

Henry Ford Museum is all paid... not sure how many are full time vs. seasonal but someone is keeping those locomotives running.

There's actually a good number of opportunities out there. True, they might not pay amazing, but for some of us making an ok living and working an enjoyable job is worth the trade.

I never went to college and am quite thankful I didn't. Would have wasted many years and alot of money learning things I didn't need to know. But that's me.

I worked all through high school and my young adult years (and still do ocasionally part time) at a railroad museum. Make as much there as anyone working a typical service job. Way more fun than making coffee at starbucks.


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 2:06 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 780
Location: Tucson, Arizona
My own personal observation (as a person who is a director of a transportation museum and started at another such museum) to someone who is just starting out is to look around and create your own opportunities. Stay on the educational path, but do as much as you can to get involved with people in the rail or history preservation community in your area. Meet as many people as you can and (unless you need to earn money) don't be afraid to accept a volunteer position.

I got into railroading by volunteering at my local museum (Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum) in high school. I volunteered one year and then discussed my situation with the president of the museum the next year, explaining that I needed a paid summer job. His response was to hire me at the then not inconsiderable hourly wage of $7.25 an hour. I was cross trained to work as a trainman, Conductor, station agent and customer service. I also worked in the shop as a laborer and machinist's assistant. Learn everything you can from everyone you come in contact with. That makes you more valuable as a worker and boost your opportunities.

_________________
"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: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2018 8:20 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 6:41 am
Posts: 174
Location: Stockton, New Jersey
I have to agree with the people that have recommended trying to work for a tourist railroad. When my son was in high school, I was able to get him a job on the NH&I in maintenance. This was during the summer and he learned a little about wood working, air conditioning, cutting the grass at the Lahaska station. He did whatever was asked of him. He worked there during high school and later while he was in college. They were short on fireman one year and he became a student fireman while still doing the maintenance work. He liked it so much he worked his way up to get his engineer's license.

He took up mechanical engineering in college and got his degree, but still worked when he could on the railroad. When he graduated, his work experience with high pressure boilers helped him to secure second interviews with utility companies. He now works as a turbine engineer at a large utility.

You never know how things will work out and he did attend the NRHS Railcamp and it was a great experience for him.

Good luck as you work through this!! We need more young people to be interested in what we do!!


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2018 8:43 am 

Joined: Tue Sep 14, 2004 7:52 am
Posts: 1425
Location: Strasburg, PA
My wife has a four year degree, and (with no children) has spent long periods unemployed and most of her working years under employed, and has never made more than $35K in her life.

I graduated high school with an aptitude for machine work, and with no other schooling have never been unemployed, and I make way more than she does. Our most junior machinist here makes more than she does.

Early in my career(circa 1980), Newsweek (that was an archaic form of communication called a news magazine. Google it, you'll see.) ran an article called, "A Shortage of Basic Skills" warning of a shortage of machinists that was evident even then. Today that shortage is beyond critical. It was recently on the news that for the first time in decades, there are more unfilled job openings in the US than there are unemployed people. The problem is that those openings are for jobs that require technical training that people aren’t being told there is a demand for.

Our best source of good young machinists is the local technical college, and I understand that every graduate gets twelve job offers.

Note though, to be a good machinist, welder, or whatever, you need to have an aptitude for it. Don’t try to jam your square peg into a round career. In my experience, vocational councilors in high school are a waste of breathable air. All they know is that they went to college, so they push everyone they talk to into doing the same thing. Accordingly, they equate every blue collar job to flipping burgers. As Mike Rowe said, councilors tell students, “’You better go to college, or you might end up being a welder.’ What they don’t tell them, and what they probably don’t even know is that there are welders who make $100K per year.”

Get a job doing something that you enjoy, and you will never work a day in your life.

_________________
"It was not easy to convince Allnutt. All his shop training had given him a profound prejudice against inexact work, experimental work, hit-or-miss work."
C. S. Forester

Strasburg Rail Road Mechanical Department


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 Post subject: Re: Paid work at a railroad museum
PostPosted: Wed Jun 13, 2018 12:47 pm 

Joined: Sat Sep 04, 2004 10:54 am
Posts: 780
Location: Tucson, Arizona
The other thing they don't tell students is where the real job opportunities are-just the ones where the schools can make the most money off them. Just heard on NPR the other day that there is a nation wide shortage of funeral directors. There is a worldwide shortage of pilots projected-used to be a pilot applicant had to have thousands of hours of flight time to get hired by the airlines. Now they're hiring kids fresh out of flight school with maybe a thousand hours in the log book. A&P mechanics can name their price-there's chronic shortage of aviation mechanics for the past twenty or so years. They walk out the door with their certification right into high five figure salaries at a minimum.

In the legal industry, we have kids coming out of law school saddled with $100k+ in student debt, many of them working for low wages. Meantime there are attorneys in small towns to mid sized cities facing retirement who can't find anyone to take over their practices.

_________________
"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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