Becoming an Engineer
The general qualifications which must be met before a man or woman becomes eligible for the position of locomotive engineer are:
- At least 21 years of age.
- Minimum education of high school or equivalent.
- Good physical condition with excellent hearing and eyesight.
- Completion of locomotive engineer training.
Other qualifications to enter into the service of a railroad company for the purpose of becoming a locomotive engineer may apply and often vary between railroads. A new employee usually enters train operating service as a brakeman or conductor, positions in which he or she works and trains for the locomotive engineer's position. On-the-job training and classroom instruction is offered by various railroads; sometimes it is contracted out to education and training companies. If the railroad's training and examinations are passed, the trainee is then a qualified locomotive engineer awaiting promotion.
Also, effective January 1, 1992, the Federal Railroad Administration issued extensive certification and licensing requirements for locomotive engineers. Engineers in the U.S. must be certified pursuant to the provisions of Part 240 of Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations (49CFR Part 240). Under 49CFR Part 240 each railroad must have in place an FRA approved certification program. An individual railroad's certification program must meet minimum federal safety requirements for the eligibility, training, testing, certification and monitoring of its locomotive engineers. In this regard, certification eligibility is based on:
- Prior safety conduct as a railroad employee and motor vehicle operator
- Compliance with substance abuse disorder and alcohol/drug regulations
- Vision and hearing acuity standards
- Knowledge testing of operating rules and scheduled retesting
- Performance skills testing/train handling
A locomotive engineer's salary varies from employer to employer; and type of rail service-terminal, switching, yard, passenger or freight. You may want to target a railroad for which you would like to work, then contact the company directly for specific information.
Many railroad companies provide on the job training and are actively hiring locomotive engineers and trainmen. You may wish to visit the following websites for job listing information:
Burlington Northern Santa Fe
The U.S. Railroad Retirement Board prepares a list each month of the most recent railroad job vacancies in our country. You can visit the Board’s jobs page at http://www.rrb.gov/PandS/Jobs/rrjobs.asp.
If you wish to receive training in a classroom environment, then you may be interested in the National Academy of Railroad Sciences at Johnson County Community College in Kansas. It is one of the largest of several colleges that offers an Associate Degree in Railroad Operations. You may visit their website at http://www.railroadtraining.com.
A general list of job openings in the railroad industry is available at the following: http://www.railjobs.com.