Mapping Your Future logo

Career Profile: Locomotive Engineers

Drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight. Interpret train orders, electronic or manual signals, and railroad rules and regulations.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 26,500 people employed as locomotive engineers in the United States. The median annual salary is $71,900. Entry level employees earn approximately $43,580 per year and senior employees earn approximately $97,430 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Prepare reports regarding any problems encountered, such as accidents, signaling problems, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • Check to ensure that documentation, such as procedure manuals or logbooks, are in the driver's cab and available for staff use.
  • Monitor train loading procedures to ensure that freight or rolling stock are loaded or unloaded without damage.
  • Drive diesel-electric rail-detector cars to transport rail-flaw-detecting machines over tracks.
  • Interpret train orders, signals, or railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.
  • Confer with conductors or traffic control center personnel via radiophones to issue or receive information concerning stops, delays, or oncoming trains.
  • Receive starting signals from conductors and use controls such as throttles or air brakes to drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas turbine-electric locomotives.
  • Monitor gauges or meters that measure speed, amperage, battery charge, or air pressure in brake lines or in main reservoirs.
  • Observe tracks to detect obstructions.
  • Call out train signals to assistants to verify meanings.
  • Operate locomotives to transport freight or passengers between stations or to assemble or disassemble trains within rail yards.
  • Check to ensure that brake examination tests are conducted at shunting stations.
  • Respond to emergency conditions or breakdowns, following applicable safety procedures and rules.
  • Inspect locomotives to verify adequate fuel, sand, water, or other supplies before each run or to check for mechanical problems.
  • Inspect locomotives after runs to detect damaged or defective equipment.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
26,500
Annual Openings:
2,500
Increase in Openings by 2030:
6%
Annual Salary Range:
$43,580 - $97,430
Education Requirements:
High school diploma