Locomotive Engineer Certification and Training Programs

With the right training, certification and experience you could begin a career as a locomotive engineer and be responsible for operating trains. Keep reading to learn more about your options for training programs, what you need to learn, the licensure requirements and the salary potential for locomotive engineers. Schools offering Heavy Equipment degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Locomotive Training and Certification Programs Are There?

In order to become a locomotive engineer, you'll probably have to start as a railroad conductor. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says that both of these positions require training, and all locomotive engineers must be federally licensed. In addition to formal conductor and locomotive engineering training programs, you'll also have to receive on-the-job training from your employer. Large rail companies sometimes contract with community colleges or vocational schools to provide classroom training for new hires.

You may be able to find non-credit locomotive engineer training programs, which confer a certificate of completion. These training programs help you develop an understanding of railroad operations, transportation infrastructure, locomotive safety and more.

Training FormatOn the job, private companies, community colleges
Job TitlesSwitch operator, brake operator, conductor, locomotive manager
Job Requirements18 years for entry level, 21 to become an engineer, math competency, background check
Median Salary*$56,240 in 2015 for locomotive engineers

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

How Can I Start My Career?

Depending on the company you intend to work for, you may not have to enroll in a separate training program to become a locomotive engineer. Instead, you'll start your career by working as a switch or brake operator, and you'll spend the first couple of months in a company-sponsored training program. With experience and education, you'll eventually become a conductor and, eventually, a locomotive engineer. Locomotive engineers who wish to advance further eventually become managers, though this usually requires a degree.

What Requirements Are There?

To work as a locomotive engineer, you'll have to complete a training program, become licensed and be at least 21 years old. Entry-level positions often only require you to be 18 years old. You'll have to be fluent in English, competent in math and able to work outdoors in a variety of weather conditions. You also need to have strong hearing and vision. Once you're offered a job, you'll probably need to complete a background check, drug tests, reading exams and other forms of evaluation.

What Else Should I Know?

The median annual salary of was $56,240 in 2015, according to a report by the BLS (www.bls.gov). Depending on your location and industry, though, wages can vary considerably. For example, locomotive engineers in the sightseeing industry made an average salary of $31,520 in 2015, according to the BLS.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen is a union that offers support to many locomotive engineers. The organization also provide training and employment information and other resources to aspiring locomotive engineers.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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