Locomotive Engineering Certification and Training Program Info

Railroad engineering programs are offered by community colleges, railroad companies and specialized training academies, and are not available online. Explore employment information that graduates of this program might need.

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Essential Information

Students may meet the education requirements for locomotive engineering certification with a certificate program. Training includes classroom, simulator and hands-on instruction. Applicants will generally need a high school diploma for admission, and graduates will be prepared to gain an entry-level job with the railroad.

To earn the professional certification required to operate a locomotive, candidates must be at least 21 years old, meet experience and physical health (hearing, vision and strength) qualifications, and pass written and performance tests. Work experience as a conductor or brakeman is usually necessary.

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Certificate in Locomotive Engineering

Courses in a locomotive engineering certificate program will cover railroad operations, equipment, safety, infrastructure and security. Sample topics include:

  • General operating skills
  • Locomotive diesel power plants
  • Air brakes
  • On-board computerized systems
  • Rules for train handling

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, job growth for railroad workers is expected to decrease by about 3% between 2014 and 2024 ( However, opportunities will arise for qualified applicants as present employees retire. The BLS also reported in May 2015 that locomotive engineers earned a median salary of $56,240.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

Anyone who moves a locomotive must be certified. In order to become certified, employees must demonstrate safe work practices. The employee's work records, state and federal motor vehicle records, and the employee's compliance with drug and alcohol regulations are also reviewed. Hearing and visual standards must be met, and a written rules test must also be passed.

There are also railroad operations associate degree programs available for locomotive engineers. Though a certificate or degree is awarded, professional certification occurs only after educational and work requirements have been met. A typical Associate in Science degree or Certificate of Achievement consists of courses in the history of railroading, railroad technical careers, railroad operations, safety, operating rules and ground school. High school preparation includes English, math, physics, electronics, mechanics and computers.

Those looking to run a locomotive can complete a certificate program in locomotive engineering. This program provides students with experience and knowledge in railroad operation, and may help satisfy the education requirement for professional certification.

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