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Details for Locomotive Engineers


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.


  • Confer with conductors or traffic control center personnel via radiophones to issue or receive information concerning stops, delays, or oncoming trains.
  • Inspect locomotives to verify adequate fuel, sand, water, and other supplies before each run, and to check for mechanical problems.
  • Interpret train orders, signals, and railroad rules and regulations that govern the operation of locomotives.
  • Monitor gauges and meters that measure speed, amperage, battery charge, and air pressure in brakelines and in main reservoirs.
  • Observe tracks to detect obstructions.
  • Operate locomotives to transport freight or passengers between stations, and to assemble and disassemble trains within rail yards.
  • Receive starting signals from conductors, then move controls such as throttles and air brakes to drive electric, diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine-electric locomotives.
  • Call out train signals to assistants in order to verify meanings.
  • Check to ensure that brake examination tests are conducted at shunting stations.
  • Check to ensure that documentation, including procedure manuals and logbooks, is in the driver's cab and available for staff use.
  • Drive diesel-electric rail-detector cars to transport rail-flaw-detecting machines over tracks.
  • Inspect locomotives after runs to detect damaged or defective equipment.
  • Monitor train loading procedures to ensure that freight and rolling stock are loaded or unloaded without damage.
  • Prepare reports regarding any problems encountered, such as accidents, signaling problems, unscheduled stops, or delays.
  • Respond to emergency conditions or breakdowns, following applicable safety procedures and rules.


  • Realistic - Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
  • Conventional - Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.

Education, Training, Experience

  • Education - These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
  • Training - Employees in these occupations need anywhere from a few months to one year of working with experienced employees. A recognized apprenticeship program may be associated with these occupations.
  • Experience - Some previous work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is usually needed. For example, a teller would benefit from experience working directly with the public.


  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Public Safety and Security - Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Transportation - Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.


  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
  • Monitoring - Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
  • Operation Monitoring - Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
  • Operation and Control - Controlling operations of equipment or systems.

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