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What is a Locomotive Engineer?

Locomotive Engineer Example Drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine-electric locomotives to transport passengers or freight. Interpret train orders, electronic or manual signals, and railroad rules and regulations.

Locomotive Engineer Responsibilities

  • Drive diesel-electric rail-detector cars to transport rail-flaw-detecting machines over tracks.
  • Interpret train orders, signals, or railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.
  • Inspect locomotives to verify adequate fuel, sand, water, or other supplies before each run or to check for mechanical problems.
  • Check to ensure that brake examination tests are conducted at shunting stations.
  • Respond to emergency conditions or breakdowns, following applicable safety procedures and rules.
  • Prepare reports regarding any problems encountered, such as accidents, signaling problems, unscheduled stops, or delays.

Skills Needed to be a Locomotive Engineer

Below is a list of the skills most Locomotive Engineers say are important on the job.

Operation and Control: Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

Operation Monitoring: Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Monitoring: Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Locomotive Engineer Jobs

  • Locomotive Engineer Supervisor
  • Motorman
  • Freight Engineer
  • Motor Operator
  • Transportation Specialist

Is There Going to be Demand for Locomotive Engineers?

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 38,800 jobs in the United States for Locomotive Engineer. There is little to no growth in job opportunities for Locomotive Engineer. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 3,000 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Locomotive Engineer are South Carolina, Arizona, and Texas. Watch out if you plan on working in Louisiana, Oregon, or Minnesota. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

What is the Average Salary of a Locomotive Engineer

Locomotive Engineers make between $46,200 and $97,890 a year.


Locomotive Engineers who work in Washington, Delaware, or New York, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Locomotive Engineers in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $64,670
Arizona $66,350
Arkansas $66,410
California $80,330
Delaware $75,030
Florida $62,520
Georgia $56,090
Idaho $60,160
Illinois $71,000
Indiana $59,180
Iowa $68,110
Kansas $69,420
Kentucky $58,160
Maryland $75,270
Massachusetts $74,190
Michigan $65,030
Minnesota $66,340
Missouri $71,260
Montana $64,700
Nebraska $66,760
New Hampshire $45,100
New Jersey $61,310
New Mexico $75,490
New York $77,150
North Carolina $58,670
Ohio $65,400
Oklahoma $51,650
Oregon $58,690
Pennsylvania $71,890
South Carolina $60,420
South Dakota $77,640
Tennessee $70,970
Texas $65,660
Utah $57,290
Virginia $69,990
Washington $85,160
West Virginia $60,730
Wisconsin $63,520
Wyoming $80,610

Tools & Technologies Used by Locomotive Engineers

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Locomotive Engineers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Data entry software
  • Route mapping software
  • Time tracking software
  • Electronic train management systems ETMS

How to Become a Locomotive Engineer

What education or degrees do I need to become a Locomotive Engineer?


What work experience do I need to become a Locomotive Engineer?


Locomotive Engineers Sector


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.


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Image Credit: Hic85 via Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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