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“Railroading is a way of life that gets in your blood,”Kansas City Southern

Railroading has long been a male-dominated industry. However, this is continuously changing, with more and more women finding fulfilling careers in railroading and paving the way for future women, too! (You can hear from three women in the industry here.)

Women in the railroading industry are proud to know that they are playing a vital role in an essential, international industry that helps drive the global economy. Not only this, but great benefits and a lasting career await women in this industry.

And, for the railroad industry itself, women are essential. “Having a diverse workforce promotes greater innovation and productivity by leveraging the strengths of different talents, skills and perceptions,” explains the Association of American Railroads. “As freight railroads continue to transform their workforce to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies, evolving rail traffic patterns and transportation competition, women are helping lead the charge.”

But how do you know that you’re on the right track in considering a career in railroading? Here are five key reasons you may want to consider this industry.

1. You’re not interested in a 9-5 office job.

In railroad operations, you may spend a lot of time in the field, experiencing new places across the country and spending much of your time outdoors. This can be a job for those seeking adventures and versatility that take them away from a desk job. 

“I spend 12+ hours a day at my job, but it seems like a minute,” said Cinthya Melissa Guillén Pinales, the Monterrey Mexico yard superintendent at Kansas City Southern de Mexico. “Every day goes by so fast and is a new learning experience. We never know what challenges the day will bring.” 

2. You’re passionate about making a difference in the world.

The railroad is an essential need that touches almost every aspect of our lives and helps to power the North American economy. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, “Railroads proved to be nimble and flexible in dealing with the pandemic disruptions and post-pandemic surges in demand, fulfilling their key role to keep the nation’s supply chains moving,” said Hani Mahmassani, NUTC director and the William A. Patterson Distinguished Chair in Transportation at McCormick.

Due to the importance of their work in safely transporting materials that sustain the nation’s economy, you can know that you are truly making an impact on the world in the railroading industry. 

3. You’re up for a challenge and not afraid of rolling up your sleeves. 

This work requires a team of tens of thousands of skilled and dedicated people who are interested in a challenging, fast-paced and rewarding work environment — with women and especially Women of Color in particular demand. This need for skilled staff and women in the industry will remain high for the foreseeable future, with companies like Kansas City Southern launching dedicated initiatives to attract more pioneering women to operations and leadership positions. 

A go-getter attitude is important for work in the railroad industry, which is always looking to grow, improve, take on challenges and innovate. To aid in this goal, Kansas City Southern encourages ingenuity with an award that recognizes employees who see a problem (or opportunity), find a solution and use whatever authority and resources are available to get a job done well — accomplishing what was previously thought impossible. 

4. You’re looking to build a lasting career.

The railroading industry isn’t going anywhere and offers great jobs in a wide array of areas, from law enforcement and engineering to dispatching and administrative support. In fact, the railroad market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.7% through 2025.

It’s very common for people in railroading to spend the large majority of their careers in the industry. This is certainly true at Kansas City Southern, which sees very low turnover. In fact, at KCS, employee turnover rate is less than half the average U.S. rate, and the average employee tenure is three times the national average. With the specialized skills of their team, KCS has a strong desire to promote from within the company and provide career development resources. In railroading, you can advance in a career that you know will last.

5. Good benefits are important to you.

Employees have many reasons to stay in the railroading industry: competitive pay, financial security, making a change, interesting work and, oftentimes, great benefits.

For example, at Kansas City Southern, the company offers a comprehensive Total Rewards package that includes competitive retirement, benefits and wellness programs, all of which are designated to reward employees throughout their careers. 

In the United States, all management employees and their dependents receive benefits starting on the first day of active employment. These include comprehensive health, dental, and vision insurance plans, flexible spending accounts, life insurance for employees and dependents, short- and long-term disability pay, and a 401(k) plan and an employee discount program.  In addition, employees may choose to enroll in a group auto and home insurance program and an identity protection and financial counseling program.  

The company also offers a matching gifts program for contributions made to qualified not-for-profit organizations as well as an education assistance program.

Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements are eligible for various benefit plans that are craft-specific. These may include supplemental coverage for sickness, dental care, hearing, vision, accidental death and dismemberment, and more.

The Railroad Retirement Board administers a retirement system specifically for railroad workers. Railroad employees and employers pay Railroad Retirement taxes in place of Social Security taxes. For more information on Railroad Retirement Benefits, visit the Railroad Retirement Board Website.  

KCS' primary Mexico subsidiary, Kansas City Southern de Mexico (KCSM), offers a competitive benefits package, including Christmas bonus, vacation days, vacation premium, food coupons, saving fund, major medical expense coverage and life insurance. KCSM cares for the health and welfare of its employees. Therefore, it provides a variety of programs to promote wellness and support a better quality of life.

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