Locomotive Engineers: Salary Overview
Locomotive engineers drive locomotives of trains that transport passengers or freight.
They may operate diesel-electric, steam, or gas-turbine electric locomotives.
A locomotive engineer’s job description also includes interpreting train orders, rules and regulations, and electronic and manual signals.
Their main responsibility is driving trains safely from one place to another and making sure that the passengers or the freight arrive on time at the destination.
To ensure that the locomotive runs smoothly, engineers monitor the speed, battery use, air pressure, and other variables.
Some locomotive engineers work for railroad agencies that are coordinated by the government while others work for private businesses in the railroad transportation field.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage reported by locomotive engineers employed in the United States was $67,090 as of May 2019 which means that half of all workers in this profession earned less than this amount while half earned more.
Salaries vary depending on a variety of factors, including the industry of employment, experience level, and the region.
The bottom 10 percent reportedly earned less than $47,190 while the top 10 percent made more than $101,060 annually.
Locomotive Engineer Salary by Industry
According to BLS, the biggest employers for locomotive engineers were companies in the industry of rail transportation.
The average annual wage reported by locomotive engineers in this sector was $72,110-slightly higher than the average across all industries (which in 2019 was $71,570).
Locomotive engineers who worked for local governments reportedly earned $64,570 per year on average while those who were employed by companies in the field of support activities for rail transportation made $54,840.
The mean annual wage for locomotive engineers employed by state governments was $87,960- which is higher than the average for this occupation across all industries.
This is also the highest-paying sector for this profession.
Lower salaries were reported by locomotive engineers in the scenic and sightseeing transportation sector- where the average annual wage reported by workers in this occupation was $38,930 as of May 2019.
Locomotive engineers may also find employment with amusement parks and arcades or in the federal executive branch but they hold only a few jobs in these sectors.
BLS reports that, on average, locomotive engineers who worked for amusement parks made $46,020 per year while those who worked for the federal executive branch made $55,840.
In conclusion, on average, salaries are usually higher for locomotive engineers who work for agencies run by state governments but you can also make a pretty decent living if you work for a private company in this sector.
Your earnings will depend on many other factors, besides the industry of employment, and experience, education, and skills play an important role in improving your earning prospects.
Salaries are also influenced by the type of train the engineers operate and the distance they travel.
Some drive long-distance trains while others drive commuter trains.
Bonuses, Commissions, and Other Benefits
Along with a fixed salary, some locomotive engineers also receive bonuses and a share of the company profit.
According to payscale.com, on average, locomotive engineers received $5,178 annually in bonuses and $8,000 in profit sharing.
However, these numbers also vary depending on the region, the locomotive engineer’s level of experience and role within the company, and the company’s profitability.
The same report shows that bonuses for this profession vary between $1,000 and $13,000 per year while profit-sharing ranges between $721-$15,000 annually.
Most locomotive engineers receive medical, dental, and vision insurance.
According to Payscale, 96 percent of them had medical insurance, 88 percent had dental insurance and 84 percent of them were vision insured.
Therefore, when discussing a locomotive engineer’s salary we should also take into account these additional benefits.
* Based on information from the May 2021 salary report from the BLS. The figures represent accumulated data for all states of employment for Locomotive Engineers. BLS data represents averages and medians for workers at all levels of education and experience. This data doesn't represent starting salaries.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.