How Long Does It Take To Become A Train Engineer?

Trains are fascinating and remain the easiest and cheapest mode of transport in the US. A train engineer is someone in charge of keeping the train’s mechanicals in check. They’re responsible for maintaining and repairing the engine and other components that might prove vital to the train. However, how long does one take to become a train engineer?

It takes 2 to 3 months of on-job training to become a train engineer. If you prefer taking a course, you can take a certificate program that takes a few months to complete or an associate’s degree program that takes 2 years. However, a high school diploma is a minimum requirement to become a train engineer

That’s not all, as you still need to know whether a train engineer is a good job and how much they earn, which you will learn if you read on. 

locomotive engineer
Jeff Hampton

How Long do Train Engineers take During Training?

Every train requires an engineer and a conductor to keep it running optimally throughout the journey. They take on tasks such as repairing and maintaining the engine. They also handle other electrical and mechanical-related cases. 

A train engineer takes a maximum of three months of on-job training to be allowed to work in this role. They’re mostly assigned a mentor who trains them on how to handle different emergencies. Alternatively, you can take a certificate or associate’s degree program if you fancy having the necessary credentials. 

A certificate program takes a few months to complete, with the associate’s degree taking two years. The certificate holders handle the day-to-day train’s operation, while associate’s degree holders are trained to handle the overall maintenance of the locomotive. 

What’s the Minimum Requirement to Become a Train Engineer?

Anyone with a high school diploma can qualify to take a locomotive training course, with a minimum of three months requirement to finish the course. However, you can take a course to further your skills and experience. 

Is Train Engineering a Good Job?

Train engineering is a decent job, and you can build a career out of it. However, you’d be expected to master your work show competency and attention to detail. It’s also possible to progress through the ranks by getting promotions, but you have to demonstrate complete dedication to your role. 

A train engineer can work on different train models, and given the ongoing reliance on trains across the country, it’s safe to say that this job is here for the long term. 

train engineer
Jeff Hampton

What are the Roles of a Train Engineer?

A train engineer has a lot of duties and roles aboard the locomotive, and it’s only fair to address a few of them, which include:

  • Operating trains – this includes maintaining the locomotive’s engine, brakes, and other crucial aspects. 
  • Driving them – they handle the navigation and coordinate with the command center to ensure smooth operation. 

A train engineer will often start their jobs by taking minor roles such as switch operators, brakes operators, and conductors. However, after showing dedication and commitment to their work, they’re often awarded promotions, and they eventually take on challenging roles. 

How much do Train Engineers Earn?

The basic annual salary of a train engineer is $100,000, which is equivalent to $48 per hour. However, the salary fluctuates, depending on the experience, roles, and position. Junior train engineers earn roughly $65,000 per year, with senior employees taking home around $120,000. 

However, you shouldn’t expect to receive this amount when you’re starting out, but the pay is decent to allow you a comfortable life. Although you cannot make millions, it would be safe to conclude that train engineers are well paid, and rightfully so, given how tasking their works can get. Also, the salary depends on the city you’re working in, with Washington paying more than other states. 

how to become a train engineer
Jeff Hampton

Additionally, you’ll also receive other benefits, such as health insurance, including dental and retirement benefits. The Worker’s Union’ll also cover you in case of any problems in your workplace. There’s also a liability benefit when you get injured in a workplace and the compensation package for families of anyone who dies when working. 

Becoming a Train Engineer

It takes only three months to become a train engineer, and you’ll be learning on the job during this period. A certificate or associate’s degree course could also come in handy and further your career as a train engineer. You only need a high school diploma as a minimum requirement to take this course. Train engineers earn a basic salary of $100,000, but entry-level engineers are known to pocket $65,000. 


Lifelong Rail Enthusiast and Owner of Worldwide Rails

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