Railroading in general can be a tough if you cannot handle criticism well, as it's just part of the job. Like the train crew, trainmasters also work odd, and long hours. When you first hire on as an assistant trainmaster you almost always are given the most unpleasant hours, midnights. Fatigue can also become a factor which you must learn to deal with. Despite this there are plenty of positives with such work. In general a job in the railroad industry offers excellent pay as well as benefits and retirement. Trainmasters also normally move up into higher management positions and how high you wish to go in the department or company really depends on you.
For instance, here are some of the requirements one railroad expects to be a trainmaster:
* Strong oral and written communications skills. Working knowledge of GCOR
* Strong computer skills; knowledge of Microsoft Office (e.g. Word; Excel)
* Knowledge of operating-focused applications (e.g., LMS)
* Knowledge of train schedules, railroad freight equipment and locomotives, the national rail network, railroad operating functions, tracks, bridges, structures, signals, Maintenance of Way
* Ensures safety of terminal in which located
* Coordinates with foreign line railroads
* Plans interchanges
* Coordinates with transportation center regarding calls of trains
* Oversees departures of trains
So, if you enjoy this line of work or have excellent communication and writing skills then you should really look into it. While formal classes usually aren't required to be a trainmaster the Class I railroads do prefer those with college degrees and at least a year's experience in day-to-day operations. You can also find trainmaster positions with a number of larger short lines (Class III) and regional (Class II) systems such as the operated by conglomerates Iowa Pacific, Genesee & Wyoming, Watco Companies, and others. To find out simply research these companies, or other, by doing web searches. You can also find out where they are located near your area by visiting the state-by-state information here.
To put it bluntly the job is exhausting as a trainmaster; expect the unexpected and most definitely be ready to be swore at and chewed out. Again, if you are not even sure if a career in railroading is right for you but would like to learn more about what it takes to work in the industry you might want to consider the book Working on the Railroad from noted author Brian Solomon. Solomon's book details the history of working in the railroad industry and the difficulties and hardship employees faced back then as well as today. After reading this book you should have a good idea bout whether working in the industry is something you are truly interested in.