Locomotive Operator: Salary and Career Facts
Would you like a career in the transportation industry? Locomotive operators drive trains which are powered by diesel fuel or electricity, and convey heavy freight or passengers to their debarkation points. Operators must observe all railroad safety rules and codes. If you'd like to know the career path for becoming a locomotive operator, continue reading. Schools offering Supply Chain Management degrees can also be found in these popular choices.
What Education Will I Need for a Career as a Locomotive Operator?
Locomotive operators most often begin their careers as railroad conductors or brakemen, and they become engineers through job promotion. Railroad companies typically offer formal, hands-on education programs. If you prefer, you can also enroll in railroad operations programs that are offered by a few community colleges. An associate's degree program might consist of courses in technical mathematics, applied physics, accounting, marketing, electronics, construction management, industrial safety, electro-mechanical systems, geography laboratory and railroad transportation history.
What Job Duties Will I Have?
As a locomotive operator, you observe manual and electronic train signals, and carefully watch air brake, air pressure and speed controls. Your job involves inspecting the locomotive's mechanical components to be certain they are functioning properly and have the right amounts of water, fuel and other necessities.
Operators must also ensure that there are no obstacles or obstructions on railroad tracks they are traversing. You need to be prepared to handle emergency situations or engine malfunctions, according to regulations. Other job duties include using radiophones to communicate with train conductors, overseeing brake tests and announcing train signals to assistant staff. You are also charged with disassembling and assembling train cars in locomotive yard areas.
How Do I Become Licensed?
According to federal regulations, all locomotive operators who transport passengers or cargo must acquire licensing. As an aspiring locomotive operator, you are required to enter a railroad-sponsored training program for engineers, which involves simulator and classroom instruction. Then you undergo vision and hearing examinations, a background check and drug testing. It is necessary to successfully complete a performance examination, which assesses your operational skills as well as a railroad knowledge examination. When all requirements are satisfied, you become a licensed engineer.
How Much Money Could I Earn?
As reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, locomotive engineers who were employed by the railroad transportation industry earned average annual salaries of $53,830 in 2009 (www.bls.gov). Those who were employees of local government earned approximately $47,910.
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