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.

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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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