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Summary Report for:
53-4011.00 - 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.

Sample of reported job titles: Conductor, Locomotive Engineer, Passenger Locomotive Engineer, Railroad Engineer, Train Engineer, Trainmaster, Transportation Specialist

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Tasks  |  Tools & Technology  |  Knowledge  |  Skills  |  Abilities  |  Work Activities  |  Detailed Work Activities  |  Work Context  |  Job Zone  |  Education  |  Credentials  |  Interests  |  Work Styles  |  Work Values  |  Related Occupations  |  Wages & Employment  |  Job Openings  |  Additional Information

Tasks

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

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Tools & Technology

Tools used in this occupation:

  • Adjustable widemouth pliers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Adjustable wrenches — Adjustable hand wrenches See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Claw hammer — Claw hammers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Desktop computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Diesel freight locomotives — Diesel freight engines See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Diesel passenger locomotives — Diesel passenger engines See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Electric freight locomotives — Electric freight engines; Gas-turbine-electric engines See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Electric passenger locomotives — Electric passenger engines See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Personal computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Radio frequency transmitters or receivers — Two-way end of train devices See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Rail couplers — Car coupling devices See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Rail switching systems — Automatic track switching systems; Manual rail switches See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Screwdrivers — Phillips head screwdrivers; Straight screwdrivers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Socket sets — Socket wrench sets See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Steam engines See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Tape measures See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Thin client computers — On-board computers See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Train braking systems — Freight car air brakes; Locomotive air brakes See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Two way radios See more occupations related to this tool.
  • Vehicle horns — Warning horns See more occupations related to this tool.

Technology used in this occupation:

  • Data base user interface and query software — Data entry software See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Expert system software — Electronic train management systems ETMS See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Route navigation software — Route mapping software See more occupations related to this technology.
  • Time accounting software — Time tracking software See more occupations related to this technology.

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Knowledge

  • Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this knowledge.
  • English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar. See more occupations related to this knowledge.

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Skills

  • Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions. See more occupations related to this skill.
  • Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others. See more occupations related to this skill.

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Abilities

  • Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Response Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources). See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness. See more occupations related to this ability.
  • Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged. See more occupations related to this ability.

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Work Activities

  • Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards — Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles). See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Handling and Moving Objects — Using hands and arms in handling, installing, positioning, and moving materials, and manipulating things. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Performing General Physical Activities — Performing physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials. See more occupations related to this activity.

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Detailed Work Activities

  • Monitor surroundings to detect potential hazards. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Monitor equipment gauges or displays to ensure proper operation. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Respond to transportation emergencies. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Signal others to coordinate vehicle movement. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Operate locomotives or other rail vehicles. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Receive information or instructions for performing work assignments. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Monitor availability of equipment or supplies. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Inspect locomotives or other railroad equipment. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Monitor loading processes to ensure they are performed properly. See more occupations related to this activity.
  • Prepare accident or incident reports. See more occupations related to this activity.

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Work Context

  • Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 84% responded “Continually or almost continually.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 85% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 73% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Work With Work Group or Team — 69% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Face-to-Face Discussions — 69% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Contact With Others — 64% responded “Constant contact with others.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Exposed to Contaminants — 66% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 86% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 81% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Freedom to Make Decisions — 67% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Frequency of Decision Making — 70% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Duration of Typical Work Week — 81% responded “More than 40 hours.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 71% responded “Very high responsibility.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 49% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 66% responded “Very important results.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Telephone — 52% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Consequence of Error — 65% responded “Extremely serious.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 66% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 45% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Coordinate or Lead Others — 46% responded “Very important.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Structured versus Unstructured Work — 45% responded “A lot of freedom.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 46% responded “Continually or almost continually.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Spend Time Sitting — 25% responded “About half the time.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 55% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Physical Proximity — 70% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Time Pressure — 37% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Indoors, Not Environmentally Controlled — 51% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Exposed to Whole Body Vibration — 41% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 38% responded “Very high responsibility.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 46% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Letters and Memos — 44% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Frequency of Conflict Situations — 36% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Exposed to Minor Burns, Cuts, Bites, or Stings — 42% responded “Every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 42% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.” See more occupations related to this work context.
  • Deal With External Customers — 23% responded “Extremely important.” See more occupations related to this work context.

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Job Zone

Title Job Zone Two: Some Preparation Needed
Education These occupations usually require a high school diploma.
Related 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.
Job 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.
Job Zone Examples These occupations often involve using your knowledge and skills to help others. Examples include sheet metal workers, forest fire fighters, customer service representatives, physical therapist aides, salespersons (retail), and tellers.
SVP Range (4.0 to < 6.0)

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Education


Percentage of Respondents
Education Level Required
70   High school diploma or equivalent Help
16   Some college, no degree
10   Post-secondary certificate Help

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Credentials

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Interests

Interest code: RC

  • 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. See more occupations related to this interest.
  • 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. See more occupations related to this interest.

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Work Styles

  • Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job. See more occupations related to this work style.
  • Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks. See more occupations related to this work style.

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Work Values

  • Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions. See more occupations related to this work value.
  • Relationships — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to provide service to others and work with co-workers in a friendly non-competitive environment. Corresponding needs are Co-workers, Moral Values and Social Service. See more occupations related to this work value.

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Related Occupations

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Wages & Employment Trends

Median wages (2014) $26.20 hourly, $54,500 annual
State wages Local Salary Info
 
Employment (2012) 38,000 employees
Projected growth (2012-2022) Decline (-3% or lower) Decline (-3% or lower)
Projected job openings (2012-2022) 11,400
State trends Employment Trends
 
Top industries (2012)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2014 wage data external site and 2012-2022 employment projections external site. "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2012-2022). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.

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Job Openings on the Web

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Sources of Additional Information

Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.

  • Railroad Occupations external site. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition.

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