How to Become a Train Engineer Using These Tips

February 5, 2020 685 views

A Unique Collection of Resources You’ll Need, To Become a Train Engineer

If you have an interest in trains, are at least 21 years old, and don’t mind working long hours or working on a flexible schedule, then a career as a train engineer — also referred to as a locomotive engineer — is a career option available to you.

You don’t need a high level of education for this career. You do need at least a high school diploma, and you must be physically fit.

Federal regulations require all railroad engineers to be licensed and certified by the Federal Railroad Administration. The training will be a mix of classroom and on-the-job training.

Also, keep in mind, to ensure public safety and maintain a high skill level, an engineer is required to take and pass unannounced operational tests from time to time, to operate a locomotive. There is also random testing for alcohol and drug use. There is zero tolerance for drug use, and you cannot consume alcohol for a certain number of hours before operating a locomotive.

Before becoming a railroad engineer, you need to hold an entry-level position such as switch operator or brake operator; from there, you would move up to a conductor position and then a railroad engineer.

Your training may consist of simulated training, on-the-job training, plus classroom training.

Here are a few benefits you’ll get from the training:

  • You’ll gain a strong understanding of the technology and equipment used on the job.
  • You’ll learn to operate trains in a variety of conditions.
  • You’ll learn about the safety practices necessary for operating a locomotive, as well as keeping passengers and others safe.
  • You’ll learn about handling and transporting hazardous material.
  • More in the resources to follow.

Some of the job duties may include:

  • Performing a detailed and regular mechanical check of the locomotive and rail cars.
  • Documenting any issues that require maintenance.
  • Communicating with dispatchers for changes in schedules, conditions, and other related information.
  • Communicating with conductors and passengers.
  • Creating detailed reports for any incidents that occur.
  • Maintaining and recording logs.
  • Keeping a close eye on the monitors on your dashboard like the speed, air pressure, and other indicators.
  • Using controls such as the throttle to control speed, use of air brakes, etc.
  • Operating the train in multiple weather conditions.
  • Hooking up and detaching rail cars.
  • More in the resources that follow.

Whenever you consider a career, I always say figure out if the job is right for you before you invest the time, effort, and money to become certified. Why not learn as much about the career as possible before getting into it?

First, I would do as much research as possible about the career. Read articles, search YouTube, check Twitter, look for online interviews or a day in the life of a train engineer. (The resources below offer a lot of these.)

Next, I would see if I could volunteer, shadow, or interview a train engineer. Using one or all these approaches will give you a strong idea of what you can expect from this career, the working conditions, as well as how the job suits you.

If you are lucky enough to shadow or interview one or more people, make sure you prepare your questions beforehand so that you get the most out of your time and discussions. Plus, when you prepare, you are respecting the time of the people that are helping you out.

Have a look below for the resources related to a career as a train engineer, organized in sections for your convenience. I would suggest spending as much time as necessary, going through the resources that catch your eye.


How to Become a Train Engineer

Become a Railroad Engineer: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Become a Locomotive Engineer | Careers | The College Board

Be A Locomotive Engineer: What You Really Need

How Can I Become a Train Engineer?

How To Become A Locomotive Engineer – Zippia

How To Become a Train Driver In North America | traindriver.org

How to Become a Train Engineer: Education and Salary Info (2020 Updated)

Career Spotlight: What I Do as a Train Engineer

Schools for Aspiring Locomotive Engineers: How to Choose

Train Crew

Job Outlook

Railroad Engineer Job Description, Career as a Railroad Engineer, Salary, Employment – StateUniversity.com

Railroad Engineer: Training Requirements, Salary and Outlook

Railroad Workers : Occupational Outlook Handbook: : U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

A Day in the Life

A Day In The Life of Locomotive Engineers

The Weird and Isolating Life of a Young Railway Engineer – VICE

Character Traits

What personality traits do locomotive engineers have? ‐ CareerExplorer

What Are The Qualities Required To Become A Train Driver?


Locomotive Engineer Salary | PayScale

Locomotive Engineer Salary | Salary.com

Getting The Job

Job Preparation Resources You Need to Get That Job

Resume Samples

Rail Engineer Resume Samples | Velvet Jobs

Resume Examples by Real People: Railway Engineer Resume Sample | Kickresume

Locomotive Engineer Resume Samples | QwikResume

Interview Tips

Top 10 train engineer interview questions and answers

Locomotive Engineer Interview Questions


Category:Railway associations – Wikipedia

Industry Terminology

Glossary of Railroad Terminology or Slang

Railroad Language — Lingo — Dictionary


Train Sayings and Train Quotes | Wise Old Sayings

87 Railroad Quotes – Inspirational Quotes at BrainyQuote


Most Popular Train Engineer Movies and TV Shows – IMDb

150+ Train Movies – Reviews, Top 10 Lists, Location Guide

List of rail transport-related periodicals – Wikipedia

Trains Magazine – Trains News Wire, Railroad News, Railroad Industry News, Web Cams, and Forms

Railroad Magazines, Covering The Subject Of Trains

Railway Magazines Online Subscriptions | Pocketmags

Trains Magazine – Trains News Wire, Railroad News, Railroad Industry News, Web Cams, and Forms

Impossible Railways | TVO.org

BBC Two – The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway, Series 1

Crossrail documentary: The Fifteen Billion Pound Railway – Crossrail

Job Opportunities





Books from Amazon Related to Trains

Google Book Search Related to Trains

The Latest about Train Engineers

In this section, you’ll find the latest information related to train engineers, including the latest news, Google search results, videos, what people are tweeting, and more.

Google Searches

Latest Search Results Related to Train Engineers

Latest Scholar Search Results Related to Train Engineers

Latest Image Search Results Related to Train Engineers


Latest News Related to Train Engineers


Tweets Related to Train Engineers


Videos Related to Train Engineers