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
A Day in the Life
Getting The Job
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.