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Thread: Alaskan Job Prospects

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    Default Alaskan Job Prospects

    Hello folks, I know that many probably get tired of answering endless questions from us lower 48'ers with wild ideas of moving to Alaska and being from Tennessee, I completely understand how you feel. haha!

    That said, I'd like to hear from some of you who are actually living there what the job situation is like up there now. My impression as an outsider looking in is that good paying jobs are hard to come by up there when compared to the lower 48 due to the state economy. My background is in transportation and logistics, more specifically rail operations and marketing, holding several positions from conductor to unit train marketing to yardmaster over the last 15 years. Also worked in distribution while in college. All that said, I'm not looking to only stay within the rail industry, a change of scenery would actually be welcome about now. I have looked at the Alaska Railroad and would be a good fit there, but from what I gather they are "right sizing" their operation and RR's don't tend to hire much from outside the company when those changes are going on. But I do keep an eye on it.

    Given my background, what are some places or companies you would seek employment up there? Also, are there other sites other than the indeed/monster/career builder and Workplace Alaska sites that Alaskans find jobs at? Any guidance would be appreciated.

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    Member theultrarider's Avatar
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    Most any jobs within the transportation industry up here are generally listed on indeed as are most any kind of equipment operator on the slope. Good luck. The job market up here is a strange critter. It's even harder to get a job if you are living out of state and applying from down there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan27 View Post
    Hello folks, I know that many probably get tired of answering endless questions from us lower 48'ers with wild ideas of moving to Alaska and being from Tennessee, I completely understand how you feel. haha!

    That said, I'd like to hear from some of you who are actually living there what the job situation is like up there now. My impression as an outsider looking in is that good paying jobs are hard to come by up there when compared to the lower 48 due to the state economy. My background is in transportation and logistics, more specifically rail operations and marketing, holding several positions from conductor to unit train marketing to yardmaster over the last 15 years. Also worked in distribution while in college. All that said, I'm not looking to only stay within the rail industry, a change of scenery would actually be welcome about now. I have looked at the Alaska Railroad and would be a good fit there, but from what I gather they are "right sizing" their operation and RR's don't tend to hire much from outside the company when those changes are going on. But I do keep an eye on it.

    Given my background, what are some places or companies you would seek employment up there? Also, are there other sites other than the indeed/monster/career builder and Workplace Alaska sites that Alaskans find jobs at? Any guidance would be appreciated.
    Three of my friends were rail roaders up here. All left for the states for higher pay and better benefits. At this moment the transportation business (trucking) is basically in a holding pattern waiting for the oil industry to start growing again.
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    New member Paul H's Avatar
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    Engineering in the oil industry is starting to finally rebound, but construction and transportation to support that is going to lag another year or two. On the flip side, we have an aging work force so even before there is an economic uptick there are going to be positions open to fill spots as people retire or move out of state.

    As mentioned it's tough to get hired living out of state. Most companies are very gun shy about hiring people from out of state due to the cost of relocating them, and the fact that the majority of people that move up leave.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    Quote Originally Posted by theultrarider View Post
    Most any jobs within the transportation industry up here are generally listed on indeed as are most any kind of equipment operator on the slope. Good luck. The job market up here is a strange critter. It's even harder to get a job if you are living out of state and applying from down there.
    Thanks. The slope is something I know very little about, but it interest me. I have an uncle who welded on the pipeline and has chased welding jobs all over the country ever since, doesn't have anything to show for it but some stories, empty liquor bottles and beer cans, but the man can weld like a champ. A friend of mine from HS's dad was in the same career and was able to stockpile enough money to buy 2 gas stations when he got back, which turned into 4, which turned into 8 and so on. I would love to move up there in a boom time, but the state centered part of me would be a hypocrite if I said that Alaskans shouldn't reap the rewards from those jobs first. The cost of admission seems to be "get your butt up here, and then we'll talk", which is something I completely understand. A couple of years ago I was being recruited by the ARR after sending in an application for a completely different job. Interviewed for about an hour long phone call with 3 or 4 department managers that went really well after they figured out I'd already been asked their obligatory 21 questions to ask railroaders. I was not formally offered the job due to objections with the pay and benefits package, but looking back it was a much stronger offer than I gave it credit for, plus 10 or 20k moving expenses iirc.

    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    Three of my friends were rail roaders up here. All left for the states for higher pay and better benefits. At this moment the transportation business (trucking) is basically in a holding pattern waiting for the oil industry to start growing again.
    From what I'm reading, over the next few years Alaska could be a huge exporter of LNG as well as oil. That would be a game changer for the state economy, if they could derive state tax money from those who don't live there but just work there it could fix a lot of budget challenges in Alaska and I'm not a pro-tax guy in the least. No different than the South Americans that work around here living 8 to a room, 24 to a house an sending all their construction a lawn mowing money home to their families. But transient workers need to realize that just buying a coffee at a local diner isn't going to have the same net effect as a dollar that gets passed around the community. what they offer is new money and that is what it takes to build wealth in a community. New money investing in he state from outside its own borders, not the other way around.

    The transportation industry in the lower 48 is booming like I've never seen before, if I were still a conductor there would be 150 new guys behind me in seniority just on my district, 100 of which they hired in the last 4-5 years. RR's are a weather vane of what's going to be happening in the economy in 6 months from now, and the economy looks good. RR's an Trucking companies can't hire fast enough, but it's about as cut throat an industry as you'll ever find. The saying on the railroad is that "if you aint been fired yet, you aint a railroader yet". We even have a special job insurance available to us called "whammy" for when we do get fired, pays us until we get back. Don't know many other (any other) industries that require that. On the other hand, if you answer your phone when they call, you just have to wear pants with big pockets to carry all your money in and do what you're told by some wet behind the ears kid right out of college that they are going to have working 18 hour days 6-7 days a week and has no clue how to run a railroad or get the best out of your crews. Had that guy a shovel and let him scoop money into your pockets. You could be in the 100-120k range within 3 years. I'm past the point of being paid by RR's for what I do, I'm where I want to get paid for what I know, which is surprisingly tough to get the good ol' boys to do. The tonnage moved through my 2 yards in 1 week is equivalent to the entire tonnage run across the entire ARR system in a year, that's a scale and scope problem ARR needs to deal with.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul H View Post
    Engineering in the oil industry is starting to finally rebound, but construction and transportation to support that is going to lag another year or two. On the flip side, we have an aging work force so even before there is an economic uptick there are going to be positions open to fill spots as people retire or move out of state.

    As mentioned it's tough to get hired living out of state. Most companies are very gun shy about hiring people from out of state due to the cost of relocating them, and the fact that the majority of people that move up leave.
    I can empathize with the companies on that. There's an elevated level of risk for both parties. I hired with the RR when I was 25 and most of the guys I worked with were in their 50's and would be hanging up their brake stick and safety glasses in the next 5-10 years. They did some heavy hiring when I got hired just to get some training from the oldheads before they went to pasture. Most of them are gone now and we have a new huge crop of railroaders to train not to break stuff or get themselves killed.

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    The fastest growing industry in Alaska is always in need of marketing and logistics people, especially with skills moving merchandise over long distance. Pay is very high, the work is dangerous. Actual experience or knowledge of street drugs not required, but could be helpful. Must supply own firearms.

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    New member Paul H's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bryan27 View Post

    From what I'm reading, over the next few years Alaska could be a huge exporter of LNG as well as oil.

    (sic).
    LNG exports and significant increases in oil production are at least a decade out. Given the fickle nature of the oil and gas industry, I would never bank on a project that is more than a couple of years. I'd love to see a major project in my working career, but won't be surprised if I retire before those projects begin in earnest.

    I do expect to see some of the smaller projects come on line in the next 2-5 years, but those will mostly keeping the pipeline flowing at the current rate or increasing flow by 100,000 bpd. And small is relative, as they will comprise billions of dollars in investments and years of work.
    Those that are successful in Alaska are those who are flexible, and allow the reality of life in Alaska to shape their dreams, vs. trying to force their dreams on the reality of Alaska.

    If you have a tenuous grasp of reality, Alaska is not for you.

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    The slope is still slow right now.
    Budgets are still somewhat tight and lots of smaller projects pushed back.
    I've only been up here 13 years or so but imho it's still awfully slow overall.
    The LNG pipeline project is still a long ways off. If it ever gets off the ground at all.
    Hard workers with half a brain can always find work but the pay and benefits may not be anywhere close to what your looking for based on what you've already said.
    And the cost of living here is of course much higher than where your from.
    I'd think long and hard before committing to moving to AK right now if you don't have a job in advance.

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    I don't give much weight to economic forecasts, but the Alaska recession is alleged to end next year.

    http://www.ktuu.com/content/news/AED...489133481.html

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