Train engineers spend all of their time working on locomotives.
Depending on the company you work for, you could get to travel extensively.
You will operate trains and ensure that they get from the station to the station safely.
Knowing more about the job, including the pros and cons, can help you to decide if this is a career move that will bring you joy in the long term.
Table of Contents
- Pros of Being a Train Engineer
- Cons of Being a Train Engineer
- Pros and Cons of Being a Train Engineer – Summary Table
- Should You Become a Train Engineer?
Pros of Being a Train Engineer
Many train engineers love what they do, and that is because of the many pros that come with the job.
1. You Get to Travel
You will have the opportunity to do a lot of traveling.
Once you prove that you have the skills needed to handle yourself on a train, you may find yourself traveling across the country and even into other countries.
It can be a great way to see the world, all without having to pay for it.
You will be able to create some incredible memories while you’re on the tracks.
2. No Heavy Lifting
Train engineers do not have to do a lot of heavy lifting, which can make it easier to enjoy yourself.
You will not find that you are tired or worn out at the end of every shift.
As you get older, you will be able to continue working because you will not have to keep up with the younger engineers because the requirements for lifting and other physical work are nominal.
3. Great Money
Depending on the company that you work for, you can expect to earn a salary of $84,000 or more.
Some train engineers can earn upwards of $200,000.
This can help to provide you with a lot of financial comfort throughout your life.
Some of the higher-earning salaries require experience, but with enough time on the job, you can get there.
Additionally, since you spend a lot of time on the road, your salary will go further because you will not be spending it on homes, cars, and active social life.
4. Impressive Benefits
You can enjoy several benefits that will help to enhance your salary.
Some companies will offer benefits such as health and dental insurance, paid time off, more pay when you work weekends and holidays, and more.
Many companies will also offer you a pension or 401k so that you can plan effectively for your retirement years.
5. No College Degree Required
You do not need a college degree to become a train engineer, which saves you time as well as a significant amount of money.
Once you earn a high school diploma or GED, you will spend approximately three months in on-the-job training.
Periodically, you will also need to go through classroom instruction and continued training.
The Federal Railroad Administration will also provide railroad engineer certification.
6. You Can Have Pride in the Work You Do
Travel by train is both important and affordable.
Society needs train engineers to keep trains running on the tracks around the globe.
Without you, train travel comes to a screeching halt.
As such, you can have a significant amount of pride in the work that you do, knowing that you play a major role within the transportation industry.
7. It Is Fun If You Love Trains
If you always loved trains as a kid, you may have dreamed of becoming a train engineer.
Now, you can make your dreams come true by working on trains for a living – and getting paid to be on locomotives.
You will have the opportunity to give tours to kids and talk about your love of trains with others.
There is the technical side of trains, too, and your fascination with them can help you to love what you do.
8. Explore New Places
You can explore new places far and wide.
As long as there are train tracks into and out of a city, you have the potential to go there.
The more you travel with a company, the easier it will be to request different routes so that you can see more places.
It is a chance to travel to some of your favorite cities around the world, take photos, and experience new and exciting cultures along the way.
9. Avoid an Office Environment
Being in an office can get boring.
If you find the idea of sitting for extensive periods of time and staring at a computer something you would rather not do, you will want a more active job – and a train engineer can provide a highly desirable work environment.
Plus, you will be able to enjoy time indoors instead of working outside under the hot sun and adverse weather conditions.
Some trains can be extremely luxurious, allowing you to have so much better than a corner high-rise office, too.
10. Always Have Topics of Conversation
When you are a train engineer, you will never be at a loss for words in conversations with co-workers, passengers, family, or friends.
You can talk about the technical aspects of the job, the exciting places that you have gotten to travel to, and even some of the other conversations that you have while you work on the rails.
It will help to keep you interesting and always talking about something new.
Cons of Being a Train Engineer
Understanding the cons of being a train engineer can prepare you for the job so that you do not become unhappy with the environment.
1. It Can Be a Long Learning Curve
The only way to move up to become a train engineer is time on the job.
You will need to build your experience and training over time.
Often, you will start as a brake operator, conductor, or switch operator.
Once you have proven yourself, you can work to seek promotions in order to get to the position you actually want.
2. There are Limited Amenities
When you are spending all of your time on a train, there are only limited amenities.
You will have a small bathroom and a small space that you can spend time in.
Most of the space on the train is for the amenities given to passengers.
You will have to get used to living in a less than desirable space and feeling cramped, which can be nearly impossible to grow accustomed to.
3. You Will Listen to Passenger Complaints
As the train engineer, you’ll be the one to field most of the complaints from passengers.
You may hear “Are we there yet?” more times than you would like.
Many of the people traveling by train are traveling long distances.
They are tired and cranky, and they will take out all of their frustrations on you.
4. Switching Careers is Hard
Once you reach the level of being a train engineer, all of your experience will be working with locomotives.
It can be nearly impossible to switch to a different field because your experience is so narrowly focused.
It means that you may have to stick with being a train engineer because of no other opportunities available to you.
5. There is the Risk of Accidents
Train accidents do not happen often, but they do happen enough that most train engineers will say that they have seen or experienced one.
It can be something that is always in the back of your mind, causing you to have a bit of anxiety.
You may even lose your life in a train accident, which may be more than you are willing to give for the excitement of getting to work with trains.
6. You Will Work Nights and Weekends at Times
Various routes will require you to work nights, weekends, and even both.
This can limit the amount of socializing that you get to do because you will find that you are always on the road.
It may have a negative impact on your work-life balance because you will be working when everyone is ready to get together.
Since there is no college degree required to be a train engineer, you will have a lower social status in comparison to people in other fields.
When you say that you are a train engineer, some will assume that you did not have the intelligence to be anything else.
Although you know that you serve an important role in society, not everyone will think that, so it can be difficult to discuss your occupation with others.
8. You Will Spend a Lot of Time Away From Home
As a train engineer, you will spend more time on trains than you will at your own home.
You may become homesick after extended times on the road.
Additionally, you may lose touch with some of your friends because you will not be able to visit with them as often as you would like.
Time away from home can be lonely, especially if you have a family that you are spending time away from.
Pros and Cons of Being a Train Engineer – Summary Table
|Pros of Being a Train Engineer
|Cons of Being a Train Engineer
|1. You Get to Travel
|1. It Can Be a Long Learning Curve
|2. No Heavy Lifting
|2. There are Limited Amenities
|3. Great Money
|3. You Will Listen to Passenger Complaints
|4. Impressive Benefits
|4. Switching Careers is Hard
|5. No College Degree Required
|5. There is the Risk of Accidents
|6. You Can Have Pride in the Work You Do
|6. You Will Work Nights and Weekends at Times
|7. It Is Fun If You Love Trains
|7. Social Status is Low
|8. Explore New Places
|8. You Will Spend a Lot of Time Away From Home
|9. Avoid an Office Environment
|10. Always Have Topics of Conversation
Should You Become a Train Engineer?
Becoming a train engineer can seem like a dream come true if you enjoy trains and travel.
While the conditions are not always the greatest, it can be an exciting and well-paying job.
Talk to train engineers currently on the job to see what you can learn from them before you decide that you want to take this career path.