As valuable commodities move through the Tulsa Port of Catoosa on the Port of Catoosa Terminal Rail System, every train requires an experienced engineer with steady hands at the controls and on the breaks. For almost a decade now, Colby Hunt has been rolling along the 15 miles of track while guiding others and building relationships along the way.
As a locomotive engineer for PCTR operated by Gavilon Group, a commodity management firm, Colby spends the core of his time managing every aspect of the train while en route, from handling controls, inspecting mechanical operations and leading the rail crew, including two engineers and two conductors. However, his favorite part about his job is maintaining strong customer relationships within the Tulsa Port.
“I enjoy talking with the port managers and working to provide the service they need,” Colby said. “We always have great conversations about the service needs.”
When it comes to the lifestyle, working on the railroad is not your average desk job. Fortunately, the locomotive crew enjoys traveling the rails where the “office view” is constantly changing.
From the engineer’s seat of a locomotive, Colby gets to see the Tulsa Port from an entirely different perspective. He and his crew feel say the opportunity to work outside often is a huge benefit.
Without railroads, there is no refuting that the world would be an entirely different place. From the industrial revolution to the westward expansion, trains have played a pivotal role in the booming U.S. economy. Today, freight rail transportation accounts for almost $220 billion in economic activity, according to the Association of American Railroads. With loads of consumer goods moving on the rails, more manpower is needed. Last year, two prominent railroads offered hefty incentives to attract applicants during a nationwide worker shortage. BNSF Railway and competitor Union Pacific Corp. offered signing bonuses up to $25,000, The Wall Street Journal reported. These companies have been recruiting for areas, including transportation, engineering and mechanical operations.
For anyone specifically considering a career as a railway engineer, most jobs usually require a high school diploma, along with several months of classroom and on-the-job training. Although pursuing a college degree can be a good option, Hunt explains it is not the only path to a successful career.
“It’s definitely possible to have a lucrative and rewarding job without attending college,” Colby said. “There are other avenues to reach success while avoiding the massive amount of student loan debt.”