Locomotive Engineers

Locomotive engineers, also known as train engineers, operate the diesel locomotive engines that pull all types of trains, including cross-country freight trains and passenger trains. They also work in switchyards, where freight cars are joined together or broken apart. A locomotive engineer is generally the highest union position to which a railroad worker can advance. There are approximately 36,860 locomotive engineers employed in the United States.

Quick Facts
Alternate Title(s) Hostlers, Road Engineers, Train Engineers, Yard Engineers
Duties Operate the diesel locomotive engines that pull freight trains and passenger trains; work in switchyards and run locomotives or switch engines that are used to move train cars
Salary Range $25,000 to $100,000
Work Environment Primarily Indoors
Best Geographical Location(s) Opportunities exist in all regions
Minimum Education Level
  • High School Diploma
  • Some Postsecondary Training
School Subjects
  • Computer Science
  • Mathematics
  • Technical/Shop
Experience Previous railroad experience required
Personality Traits
  • Hands On
  • Realistic
  • Technical
  • Leadership
  • Math
  • Mechanical/Manual Dexterity
Certification or Licensing Required
Special Requirements Must be at least 21 years old; pass drug screening
Employment Prospects Good
Advancement Prospects Fair
Outlook Decline
Career Ladder
  • Supervisor
  • Locomotive Engineer
  • "Extra" Locomotive Engineer
  • Railroad Conductor

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