Looking for a job? The latest data says you might want to try working on—or with—a railroad.
About 67,000 rail employees, accounting for 30 percent of the industry's workforce, will be eligible for retirement over the next five years, according to data from the Railroad Retirement Board. In addition, the industry has increased its hiring activity in response to improving traffic levels, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR).
Monthly data submitted by the railroads to the Surface Transportation Board, the federal agency overseeing the industry, showed that overall rail employment rose in December by 5.2 percent over the year-earlier period.
According to Department of Commerce data cited by the AAR, the average full-time U.S. rail employee in 2009 earned $81,563 in wages and $25,522 in benefits, for a total average annual compensation of $107,085. By comparison, the average full-time employee in all industries earned $51,888 in wages and $12,665 in benefits.
"Railroads today are well positioned to offer jobs—potentially life-long careers—to people all across the country," said Edward R. Hamberger, AAR's president and CEO.
AAR spokeswoman Holly Arthur said the group does not have a breakdown of what positions would be in greatest demand due to impending retirements. However, she said the industry seems to be actively recruiting more for on-board engineers and conductors than other types of positions such as administrative or IT.