Everything You Need to Know About a Train Engineer

Last updated on August 7th, 2023 at 12:28 pm

In the simplest of definitions, a train engineer should be capable enough to drive any type of train from point A to B. However, we know you visited this web page looking for more comprehensive information about this topic. Becoming a train engineer is a dream for many, while it is a craving passion for others. Whatever the bracket you fall into, we have an article that is promised to let you know some of the fascinating facts and details about train engineers. Let’s get started.

How to become a train engineer?

Yes, we know this is the first question most locomotive enthusiasts look for answers when reading a report like this. However, we thought it would be helpful if we explain what a train engineer is in the first place before elaborating on the required qualifications and other stuff.

So, who is a train engineer?

As we stated at the very beginning of the article, the primary objective of a train engineer is to take a train from one destination to another. The trains they operate can include electric, diesel-electric, battery and many other types. In addition, it is their responsibility to safely carry passengers and/or freight to the intended destination.

Train engineer jobs considered one of the hardest out there. Not only because it requires certain qualifications, but also, it demands you to be precise whatever the action you take while at work. The role of a train engineer consists of monitoring the speed of the train, external and internal conditions, and efficiency. Keeping constant communication with necessary parties also is one of the main duties.

Although those tasks sound pretty much simple and straightforward, the job is definitely easier said than done. That is why every candidate must have to go through certain criteria before becoming eligible for the job. 

What is the education required to be a train engineer?

The answer to this question really depends on the country you live in. In fact, some authorities of certain countries demand a considerable amount of education while others rely more on the training. However, you should possess at least a qualification of high school diploma or equivalent to become a locomotive engineer. 

Moreover, training procedure also differs from one country to another. If you have an idea of pursuing a train engineer job, the first piece of advice we give you is to understand that it is a long journey. This says you have to start from the bottom and gain experience. Only the most experienced employees get the opportunity to convert themselves into locomotive engineers.  

You may have to execute the duties of a brake handler, conductor or even an ordinary laborer for a given time in order to gain experience. Once you creep inside a company, you could opt for educational programs and training to reach your end goal. 

In the US, it is mandatory to obtain a license from Federal Railroad Administration As we kept mentioning, the criteria to become a train engineer depends on the country you live in. Regardless of the country, you will receive at least four to five months of on-the-job lessons before you get the opportunity of driving a train on your own. 

Ok, guys, we hope you now have a fair comprehension of what you need to have to become a train engineer in terms of education and training. But, this is quite a unique job; it might not be the cup of tea for most as it does require certain personal qualities as well. 

how to become a train engineer

What are the personal qualities and skills needed?

See whether you have the following qualities in you. If not, train these before you do anything else.

Mechanical skills

As far as we are concerned, there should be a passion for mechanical stuff to succeed in a job related to it. One notable thing about train engineers is that most of them are mechanical lovers. So, if you are less interested in mechanical topics, probably you are not the best candidate to hunt for a train engineer job. 

Problem-solving skills

Train engineers don’t have a great deal of time to make critical decisions in critical situations. One erroneous decision can bring catastrophic results for the train, passengers and freight. However, you will get adequate training while you are in the program if you don’t have such skills right now. But, keep in mind problem-solving skills do matter regardless of the industry you are in.

Communication skills

This is a super important element. As a train engineer, you are often working with a team, including your partner/s in the cab. The messages you deliver must be crystal clear and easy to understand. Moreover, the messages you communicate must be pinpoint accurate as the railway is not an industry that has much of a reversal time for the decisions made.

Fitness and eyesight

It’s a no-brainer explaining the importance of fitness and eyesight for a train engineer. If you have issues with your eyes or physics, it will be challenging for you to get the job in future. Maintaining a good level of fitness also comes to the party at the job interview time. So, make necessary adjustments if you feel you are below the required standards.

Willing to work flexible hours

You know, this job is really for die-hard locomotive lovers. This is not an 8 to 5 job in most countries, and you got to love being a train driver to perform your duties at the highest productivity levels in demanding time frames.

What is the train engineer salary?

There is a declining outlook for this particular job. Researchers suggest that advancements in the industry and technical improvements have a direct say on this decline. What this reveals is it would not be a cakewalk to find a job in the locomotive industry in the coming years. You will have to keep a close eye on the job openings and grab the opportunity with both hands when they become available.

Coming back to the salaries, most companies do pay above $75,000/yr for the train engineers. Again this margin can fluctuate depending on the company and the country that you live in. Usually, the salary of a locomotive driver is considered above par compared to most other professions.

Before we say adios, let us clear some frequently asked questions about the train engineer job.


What is the train engineer costume?

The train driver job is one of the oldest professions in the world. Also, most of the countries tend to stick with the good old way of clothes even now. We cannot provide you with an exact uniform, but it usually consists of a hat, jacket and badges representing the history and/or company.

Who is the release train engineer?

Also called RTE is a job that requires performing program level processes. In addition, an RTE is responsible for managing risks, escalating impediments and also acts as a servant leader. Release train engineers are a valuable cog of the wheel. They are the ones who take care of ART events while assisting the teams in delivering more efficient work. 

Do locomotive drivers get a chance to sleep on the train?

Most of the job roles involve rotation-based working hours. Also, getting adequate sleep time for the drivers is mandatory in all locomotive companies. Typically, they sleep in their own sleeping car or dorm car when they are allowed while they are at work. 

What are the working hours?

Although we mentioned it is not an 8 to 5 job, the weekly working hours of a train engineer usually get limited to 40 hours per week. However, there is no specified time as trains do work 24*7, and if you have an idea of becoming a train driver, you will have to work in shifts involving evenings and nights. The time allocated for a shift may get varied depending on the company policies; even it can go beyond 12 hours in certain situations. 

Is a locomotive engineer is a good job?

Of course, it is. You can take home a considerable amount of money as a train engineer. The journey to becoming a driver might not be the easiest. But, if you have what it takes to reach there, you are guaranteed a decent lifestyle. In addition, the promotions and salary increments also known to be considerable compared to other jobs. 

What is the reason for train drivers to sit on the right side?

Even though we live in the 21st century, the railway industry does have certain traditional implementations. One of the main reasons for the locomotive drivers to sit on the right side is that signals are on the right side of the track. So, drivers sitting on the right side do make a lot of sense.


So, guys, what do you think? Becoming a train engineer is easy? If you ask us this question, our answer would be yes, as far as you take the process seriously. We hope all the points that we elaborated on in this article are clear for you. If you need further clarification, shoot us a message we will respond to you in a jiffy. Cheers!