“I love public transportation! Who wants to sit in a car and be angry at other drivers for eight hours? I’d rather sit on a bus or train and read a book.”

Hong Chau, Actress

Pros and Cons of Working as a Train Driver

advantages and disadvantages of being a locomotive engineer

You think about becoming a train driver?

While there are indeed many advantages related to working as a train engineer, there are also some problems with it.

Thus, I show you all the pros and cons of being a locomotive engineer in this article to give you a better impression of whether you still want to become a train driver or rather want to go for an alternative career path instead.

Train Engineer Job Profile

Job DescriptionTrain engineers drive trains over short or long distances. Their job is to bring their passengers from A to B in a safe manner and to keep our public transport system running.
Salary$68,000 per year on average, most locomotive drivers make between $58,000 and $83,000 per year.
Job SecurityRather questionable since there is a decreasing demand for train drivers.
Job SatisfactionDecent if you love trains.
Work-Life BalanceRather poor since you will have to work on weekends quite often.
Physically / Mentally Demanding?Working as a train driver can be mentally and emotionally demanding.
Future OutlookRather poor since many train engineers will no longer be needed in the future since trains will drive automated without locomotive engineers.
RequirementsNo college degree required. It will be enough to finish high school in most states.

Advantages of Being a Locomotive Driver

  1. You get around as a locomotive engineer
  2. Train drivers can travel the country for free and even get paid for it
  3. You can see many different places and experience different cultures
  4. Working as a train engineer can be exciting
  5. You can avoid heavy physical work
  6. Train drivers don’t have to work outside in the cold
  7. You keep our system running
  8. Most people will greatly appreciate your work
  9. You can work rather independently
  10. Great job if you love trains
  11. You can make decent money as a train engineer
  12. You don’t need a college degree for becoming a train driver

You get around as a locomotive engineer

One advantage of being a train engineer is that you will get around quite a lot.

Depending on what trains you will drive, you may be able to see many different regions.

Even if you only drive trains in your city, you will see many interesting spots and may also get some inspiration about places you may want to visit.

It can also be pretty nice to see your region from a completely different perspective and you may really get to know your city thanks to your job as a locomotive engineer.

Train drivers can travel the country for free and even get paid for it

If you are working as a long-distance train engineer, you may even be able to drive trains across different states.

This means that you can travel all around the country and while many other people will pay significant amounts of money for tickets, you will be the one who will not pay anything and even gets paid for it.

Thus, becoming a train driver may also be great for you in case you love to travel and to see many new places.

You can see many different places and experience different cultures

Not only will you be able to see many different cities and landscapes as a train engineer, but you will also be able to experience many different cultures.

If you travel a lot, you will know that local traditions and cultures greatly differ across states and that people in region A live a quite different life and have pretty different attitudes than people in region B.

While it can be challenging to overcome those cultural differences first, it can also give you the opportunity to see the world from a different perspective since you will have many interesting conversations with locals and can discuss what’s going on in the world right now.

Working as a train engineer can be exciting

Many people also really love their job as a train engineer. In fact, many of them have already dreamed about becoming a train driver once they were kids and now their dream has become reality.

Consequently, if you are also really passionate about trains and had been interested in them for many years, chances are that you will also really love working as a locomotive engineer since you will be in trains all day long and can enjoy the special atmosphere that comes along with it.

You can avoid heavy physical work

Another upside to working as a train engineer is that you can also avoid physical work.

Most of the time, you will just sit in your driver’s cabin and will navigate your train instead of having to do hands-on work that requires plenty of physical strength.

In turn, you will have a rather relaxed life in this regard compared to many other people who will have to work really hard and will likely suffer from serious physical health problems in the future.

Train drivers don’t have to work outside in the cold

As a train engineer, you will also be able to work inside your train and will be protected against extreme conditions outdoors.

For instance, while many other people will have to work in the cold in winter, you will have a rather comfortable time inside your train since you will be able to use heating to make your overall conditions as enjoyable as possible.

Consequently, while many other people will have to work outside in cold, you can really enjoy your time in your driver’s cabin.

You keep our system running

Train drivers are also really important to keep our system running. Imagine a world without train engineers.

We would not be able to transport enough passengers from A to B and many people would simply not be able to get to work without a working railway system.

This is not only true for transporting people, but also for transporting all sorts of cargo.

Without trains, we would just not have the opportunity to supply stores with a huge variety of different foods and many other things for daily life.

Thus, you will be really important for society and will play a crucial role to keep our living standard as high as it is right now.

Most people will greatly appreciate your work

Since most people will know that you do a pretty important job and that a world without train engineers would not look the same as it is right now, your work will often be greatly appreciated and many people will also thank you for what you are doing for them.

Some restaurants and bars may even offer you food and drinks for free and you will be able to get lots of appreciation in the long run.

You can work rather independently

Another benefit of becoming a train driver is that you will also be able to work in a rather independent manner.

Sure, you have to coordinate yourself with train conductors and other staff members.

Yet, while you are in your driver’s cabin, you will get a great level of freedom since you will have no boss who will look you over the shoulder all day long.

Instead, you can just do your work on your own terms as long as you comply with all the rules and regulations.

Therefore, becoming a train engineer can also be great if you are the type of person who wants to have a great level of freedom and doesn’t like having a controlling instance around you all day long.

Great job if you love trains

Many train drivers are also technically interested in trains in general.

They are often fascinated by them and just can’t think of a better job.

In fact, some train engineers would even do their job for free since it will just not feel like work to them.

Thus, if you have the same fascination for trains and trains are just your passion and your hobby, chances are that you will become really happy as a locomotive engineer.

You can make decent money as a train engineer

Train engineers can also make decent money from what they are doing.

Quite often, working as a train engineer will be enough for a pretty decent lifestyle and if you work hard and get some promotions, you may even be able to afford some luxury in the long run.

Sure, you will not make millions as a train driver.

Yet, there are many jobs out there which pay far less and most train engineers are petty happy with what they are making.

You don’t need a college degree for becoming a train driver

You also don’t need any fancy education for becoming a train engineer.

Most often, it will be enough to finish high school and you will be good to go.

You will learn everything you need to know in your job since you will just be instructed by experienced train drivers and will become really good at what you are doing over time without the need of getting lots of theoretical knowledge in college.

In turn, you can save plenty of money on tuition and other costs related to college and can also avoid getting into student debt.

Consequently, while many of your friends may have to pay off student loans for quite a long time, you may be able to make good money right after finishing school and will therefore also become independent of your parents much sooner than many other people.

Now that we talked about all the upsides that come along with working as a train engineer, it is time to also talk about the negative things that come along with it.

Disadvantages of Being a Train Driver

  1. Working as a train engineer can be stressful
  2. Passengers may complain quite a lot
  3. Many train drivers see pretty bad things during their careers
  4. Hard to switch fields as a train driver
  5. Train engineers have rather low social status
  6. You will not get rich as a train driver
  7. Risk of accidents
  8. Train drivers often have to work on weekends
  9. Rather questionable work-life balance in general
  10. Overweight may become a problem
  11. Not suitable if you want to start your own business
  12. You may be belittled by some people
  13. Train engineers are away from home quite often
  14. You may lose many social contacts over time
  15. Maintaining relationships can be difficult
  16. Not the best job if you have a family
  17. Rather questionable future job prospects

Working as a train engineer can be stressful

One problem with being a locomotive engineer is that it can be a really stressful job.

Quite often, your train will be late and you have to drive faster than normal to make up for this delay.

Moreover, you will also really have to focus so that you don’t make any mistakes.

Always remember that many lives lie in your hands as a train engineer and that you therefore have a huge level of responsibility every day.

Consequently, this can lead to plenty of emotional stress and if you don’t have the stomach to deal with this kind of stress in a proper manner, chances are that you should rather go for a different career path instead.

Passengers may complain quite a lot

During your career as a train driver, you will also have to deal with many difficult people.

In fact, people who travel long distances by train are often tired and not in a good mood at all.

In case your train is late, they may complain and some of them may even insult you.

This can be really annoying and may also ruin your day if you can’t deal with these insults in an emotionally mature manner.

Many train drivers see pretty bad things during their careers

Another disadvantage of being a train engineer is that you will also see many sad things during your career.

In fact, many people who want to end their lives do this by throwing themselves in front of a train.

There are statistics that report that every train driver sees a handful of those unpleasant events during his career and you should really ask yourself whether you want to be in the driver’s seat while those things happen.

Hard to switch fields as a train driver

Train engineers also have a pretty hard time in case they are no longer happy with what they are doing and want to switch fields.

In fact, most locomotive engineers haven’t learned many other skills and don’t have any expertise apart from driving trains.

In turn, you will often be stuck in your job as a train driver since you will just not have the skill set that is necessary to compete for many other jobs out there.

Train engineers have rather low social status

Another disadvantage of becoming a train engineer is that you will also have a rather low social status. Sure, many people will greatly appreciate your work.

However, compared to doctors, lawyers or judges, you will still be pretty unimportant in society.

In turn, you may also have problems in the dating market since status still matters in this regard and there are many jobs out there that would make your life easier in this regard compared to working as a locomotive engineer.

You will not get rich as a train driver

While you can make decent money as a train engineer, you will just not get wealthy or even rich from it.

Quite often, train drivers make enough to cover their basic expenses, yet they are not able to afford that much.

Hence, if money and luxury are really important to you and you can simply not live without them, make sure that you choose a different profession instead.

Risk of accidents

Another downside to working as a train driver is that you will also be at risk of serious accidents.

While train accidents are not that common, they may still happen sooner or later during your career and you may even lose your life in those accidents.

Consequently, also make sure that you are willing to take this risk before you decide for a career as a train engineer.

Train drivers often have to work on weekends

As a train driver, you will also often have to work on weekends.

People just want to commute from A to B on weekends or even holidays and while those people will really enjoy their time, you will be the one who has to work.

This can be really annoying since you will often also not be able to make nice weekend trips while many of your friends will have plenty of fun.

Rather questionable work-life balance in general

While train engineers also have some time off, their work-life balance can be considered as rather questionable.

In fact, you will have to travel a lot and even if you are at home, you might not be able to unplug from work since your sleeping rhythm may just suffer quite a lot.

In turn, your overall sleeping quality may be quite poor as well and insufficient sleep can also greatly decrease your overall quality of life.

Overweight may become a problem

Since you will just sit in your driver’s seat all day long, chances are that you will also gain some weight and may suffer from overweight or even obesity.

Thus, if you decide for a career as a train driver, at least make sure that you go to the gym or do other sports on a regular basis to stay fit and avoid several health problems that can come along with excessive weight.

Not suitable if you want to start your own business

Also if you dream about starting your own business sooner or later, becoming a train engineer will not be a wise choice in this regard.

You can’t simply start your own railway system from scratch.

Instead, you will have to work as an employee and may become really sad in the long run if you are a rather entrepreneurial type of person who wants to have an own business quite badly.

Thus, ask yourself which type of character you are.

If you are fine with working as an employee, you may become happy as a train engineer.

Yet, if you want to have your own business and want to make all important decisions related to it, you should definitely work in different fields where it will be much easier to start your own business.

You may be belittled by some people

While many people will appreciate what you are doing for society, others will just belittle you and even some of your friends may not understand why you want to become a train engineer instead of going to college and learning something exciting.

In fact, going to college is the gold standard in society right now and everything else seems to be considered as rather dodgy.

Hence, make sure that you are also able to deal with nasty comments in this regard in an emotionally healthy manner before deciding for a career as a locomotive engineer.

Train engineers are away from home quite often

If you work as a long-distance train driver, chances are that you will also be away from home quite often.

Thus, if you are the type of person who really loves being at home and doesn’t like to travel at all, you should also go for a different career path instead.

You may lose many social contacts over time

Since you will be away from home quite often, you may also lose many social contacts sooner or later.

There will just not be enough time left to meet up with your friends since you will be away too often and will also miss many birthdays and other special events.

Maintaining relationships can be difficult

It can also be difficult to maintain relationships as a train engineer.

Since you will be away from home that often, chances are that your partner will cheat on you sooner or later and that your relationships will end pretty soon.

Not the best job if you have a family

Working as a train driver can also not be great in case you have children or plan to have children in the future.

Your children want to have you around and if you are away from home, they will be really sad and may even resent you for your job in the long run.

Thus, you should really ask yourself whether your job is worth it to you to put your private life on the line.

Rather questionable future job prospects

Another issue with being a train engineer is that you will have rather questionable future job prospects.

Due to machine learning and artificial intelligence, many trains will be able to drive without a train driver and this means that many jobs will be lost in this field in the next decades.

Top 10 Being a Train Engineer Pros & Cons – Summary List

Being a Train Driver ProsBeing a Train Driver Cons
Being a train driver can be a passionBeing a train driver can be stressful
Train engineers can make decent moneyPassengers may complain quite often
You can keep our system runningSome people make fun of you
Many people will appreciate your workYou will be away from home quite often
You can avoid heavy physical workDifficult if you have children
Train drivers don’t have to work outdoorsHard to maintain relationships
You can work rather independentlyRather low social status of train engineers
Great work if you love trainsYou often have to work on weekends
You can travel the countryYou will see sad things during your career
You don’t need a college degreeSleeping problems are quite common

Should You Become A Train Engineer?

After discussing all the advantages and disadvantages of being a train engineer in this article, you should have got a pretty good impression of what working as a train driver really looks like.

Now it is on you to make your final decision in this regard.

Make sure to take your time since this decision is quite important and can greatly determine how your future will look like.

Also make sure to check out the following articles:

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a school bus driver

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a gardener

Advantages and disadvantages of working as a farmer

Sources

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_driver

https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes534011.htm

https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/railroad-occupations.htm

About the author

My name is Andreas and my mission is to educate people about the different career paths that are possible in our current state of the world. In my opinion, people often make the mistake to choose their profession solely based on how much money they can earn from it instead of doing what makes them really happy.

This is quite sad and I just want to give people a more objective picture of how a fulfilling career could look like. I did the same when I started working in consulting after finishing my Master’s degree in Economics. However, I’ve quit pretty soon after that since I haven’t found true meaning in my job.

Now I can do what I really love to do and I want to enable as many other people as well to go this exciting path towards happiness instead of money.

I conducted various interviews with employees to give you a good impression of what working in different fields will look like and that you can make the best possible decision regarding your future career choice.

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