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How Much Money Does a Train Engineer Make?

Growth Trends for Related Jobs

Train engineers operate the locomotives that transport passengers or cargo across rail lines. Most workers are members of unions, and training is usually done on the job or through a formal company training program. The position requires a federal license. The highest-paid engineers make more than double the salaries of the lowest-paid ones.


Two Trains in New York
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The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that as of May 2009, train engineers make a median hourly wage of $23.01, which is a yearly salary of $47,870. The lowest 10 percent earn $16.07 or $33,430 while the highest 10 percent make $42.64 or $88,690.


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The type of industry determines wages. The top five highest-paying for this profession are rail transportation, in which compensation is $25.88 or $53,830; the federal government, in which compensation is $24.52 or $50,990; local government, in which compensation is $23.03 or $47,910; iron and steel mills, in which compensation is $22.58 or $46,970; and rail support, in which compensation is $17.41 or $36,200.


Railroad engineer
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The state in which the job is performed can control salaries. This job's best-paying states are New Mexico, with wages of $43.64 or $90,780; California, with wages of $33.34 or $69,340; Colorado, with wages of $33.19 or $69,040; Oklahoma, with wages of $32.91 or $68,450; and Wisconsin, with wages of $32.79 or $68,210.


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The city of employment also determines salaries with the top two being Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California, with wages of $26.80 or $55,740; and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin, with wages of $18.36 or $38,190.

Employment Levels

Long Beach Shoreline Marina
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Areas with the greatest number of jobs may or may not pay the best income. For example, rail transportation offers the highest levels of employment, as well as the highest salaries. This is followed by local government, which is also in the top five for salaries. The states with the greatest concentration of train engineers are North Dakota, in which compensation is $26.70 or $55,540; Kansas, in which compensation is $30.70 or $63,860; and Indiana, in which compensation is $20.88 or $43,420. None of these three are in the top five for income. Finally, the cities with the highest concentration of workers are Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, California, and Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minnesota/Wisconsin. Both of these show the best salaries as well.