A locomotive engineer operates and maintains trains that carry either human passengers or freight cargo from one place to another. They must monitor the locomotive's systems while en-route and inspect the trains before they leave and after they reach their destinations. When problems arise, they must find practical solutions to maintain their assigned schedules. Most locomotive engineers work 40-hour weeks and might work closely with railroad conductors and other locomotive professionals.
Locomotive Engineer Job Education Requirements
Most locomotive engineers receive on-the-job training that prepares them for the technical and practical responsibilities of the job. An aspiring locomotive engineer should have a high school diploma or the equivalent, but does not need an advanced degree. Companies usually require locomotive engineers to be 21 years of age or older before they can pursue this career path, but job seekers can get jobs as drivers or in other transportation positions until they meet the age requirement. Locomotive engineers must also obtain a Federal Railroad Administration certificate.
Locomotive Engineer Job Market
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job market for locomotive engineers will fall by 4 percent through 2022. The availability of alternative transportation has reduced the United States' reliance on the railroad system, which means declining job opportunities. However, many railroads still function with high traffic, so jobs exist in this industry. As of 2014, employment for locomotive engineers sits at just under 40,000.
Locomotive Engineer Job Salary Information
The BLS reports that locomotive engineers make a median salary of $27.41 per hour or $54,500 per year. The lowest these professionals earn is around $19 per hour, and the highest earners (90th percentile) bring home $37.31 per hour or $77,600 per year. Most locomotive engineers work as employees for large companies, but a few professionals in this industry operate as self-employed independent contractors.