Locomotive Engineers


Locomotive Engineers


Locomotive engineers, also known as train engineers, operate the diesel locomotive engines that pull all types of trains, including cross-country freight trains and passenger trains. They also work in switchyards, where freight cars are joined together or broken apart. A locomotive engineer is generally the highest union position to which a railroad worker can advance. There are approximately 32,200 locomotive engineers employed in the United States.

Quick Facts


Median Salary



Employment Prospects



Minimum Education Level

High School Diploma



Previous railroad experience required





Personality Traits

Hands On


Earnings for locomotive engineers are negotiated in union contracts. The earnings depend on the class of locomotive operated, the kind of service in which the engineer is employed, and the amount of seniority he or she has. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, median annual earnings of locomotive engineers were $62,100 in May 2018. Wages ranged from less than $43,050 to more than $95,140....

Work Environment

The conditions of work for engineers are governed by the type of job. The yard engineer generally works a standard 40-hour week, in one location. The road engineer, while on the extra board, may work irregular hours and be on call for 24 hours, seven days a week. Even those with regular assignments rarely have what would be considered regular workweeks, since trains run at all hours of the day ...


Employment for locomotive engineers is expected to decline through 2028, according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Despite this prediction, the DOL says that "an increase in intermodal freight—the shipment of goods through multiple transportation modes—may increase demand for some railroad workers." In recent years, employment growth also has benefitted from federal legislation that has ...