How to Become a Train Conductor at Little or No Cost: Licenses, Training, Requirements, Salary, Expert Tips

Have you ever thought about who is responsible for holding the train, the freight, the passengers, and the crew? Well, It is the train conductor, not even the driver.

Anyone can become a train conductor. I say it because it requires minimal education, unlike other professions. In fact, you can even get the necessary training at little or no cost. If you’re in doubt, read through and learn the tips.

Rail transport is one of the most important, commonly used, and very cost-effective modes of transportation.

However, working in a railway station generally is stressful, but it can be enjoyable and rewarding; you get to travel to different places, meet people and gain a lot of skills that will prepare you for bigger job opportunities in the automotive industry.

Who is a Train Conductor?

A train conductor is an individual who works aboard trains, coordinating the daily activities of the crew. They are responsible for providing a safe, on-time, and on-plan movement of freight trains.

Trian conductors are always on-call, even nights, weekends, and holidays, and are typically required to report to work within 90 minutes of notification. They travel a lot and sometimes spending a day or more away from home.

What Does a Train Conductor Do?

The duties of a train conductor vary depending on the type of train. However, an average train conductor will carry out the following job functions:

  • Issue tickets to passengers boarding the train
  • Ensure the train follows applicable safety rules and practices
  • Directing the train’s movement, Making sure the train stays on schedule starting from the stations
  • Control the power-operated doors
  • Oversee the safety, comfort, and orderly transport of all passengers
  • Check tickets and other passenger service to ensure they’re on the right train
  • Alert passengers of upcoming stops

What Skills Do I Required to Become a Train Conductor?

To excel in any career, be it a Notary or Mechanic, you must learn a suitable skill. For a train conductor, you need the following skills.

If you are not sure whether you have a skill that might fit with a career as a train conductor, You can enroll in a certificate or college program to learn the application of the skills.

  • Communication
  • Customer service
  • Mechanics and operations
  • Time management
  • Problems solving skills
  • Use a computer keyboard

Requirements Needed to Become a Train Conductor

Demonstrating the skills is not enough; there are some criteria you have to meet before you can assume the position of train conductor. Some of these criteria are;

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • Speak and read English.
  • Be Able to push, pull, lift, and carry up to 25 pounds frequently, up to 50 pounds occasionally, and up to 83 pounds infrequently.
  •  Ability to walk, sit, stand, and stoop comfortably
  • You must pass a reading comprehension test to be considered for an interview.

Now that you have some understanding of what is required of a train conductor and the role, we can proceed further with how to become a train conductor, train conductor schools, salary and the job outlook.

How to Become A Train Conductor: Step-by-step guide

There is really no prior experience required to secure the position of a train conductor. According to BLS, some conductors entered the industry by working as signal or brake operators in a rail yard.

These workers may be promoted to train conductor positions after gaining familiarity with the railroad industry and how trains and yards function.

However, if you are interested in becoming a train conductor, your a high school education skills and training that will enable you to communicate effectively with passengers.

Step #1. High School Diploma

A high school diploma or equivalent is necessary because you will be exposed to basic mechanical, tech, and English courses.

 Step #2. On-the-job training

This training allows the aspiring conductors to learn from the experienced conductors. They take a course in conducting a community college.

During the first 14 weeks, trainees focus on formal training both in the classroom and in the field. Afterward, they will be assigned to either a switch person, brake person, or conductor assignment.

At the end of the training, trainee conductors earn a certificate.

Step #3. Certification and Licensure

 A certification that complies with federal rules is necessary to hold your job as a train conductor.

How Much Does it Cost to Become a Train Conductor?

The cost of attending a train conductor school usually varies by program providers and the type of package you want. A typical online provider offers individual courses and membership packages with courses and advanced resources. In summary, the average cost of enrolling in a train conductor school ranges from $10,000 to $60,000.

Train Conductor Schools

Below is a list of Train or railroad conductors’ schools arranged in no particular order. These schools offer certificate training programs to prepare individuals for entry-level conductor positions with a railroad.

Some programs offer internships and orientation opportunities that allow the trainees to shadow a conductor in a working rail yard before completing their classes.

Each school has a unique curriculum that covers dozens of lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on learning training. You can select the one that best suits your demand.

 #1. Dakota County Technical College

Average Tuition: $5,713
Degrees Offered: Certificate

Dakota County Technical College is a popular train conductor school that offers certificate programs. This school offers a wide range of courses and internship programs. Students in this training learn how to identify the conductor’s role in the organizational structure.

At the end of your training, you will understand the actual operations and be able to apply skills learned in classroom-based instruction to those operations.

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#2. Johnson County Community College

Average Tuition: $5,892
Degrees Offered: certificate

Johnson County Community College offers a college train conductor certificate in partnership with the National Academy of Railroad Sciences (NARS)and BNSF Railway.

This school has a training facility that spans 130,000 square feet of office, classroom, laboratory, and multimedia studio space.

Students learn from former railroad conductors who have met industry and Higher Learning Commission standards.

Johnson County’s program is very flexible; it allows students to choose the most suitable plan. They can even complete their coursework at the comfort of their home.

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#3. Northwest Railroad Institute

Average Tuition: $13,925
Degrees Offered:

Northwest Railroad Institute(NWRI) is such a good fit for individuals looking for railroad training. NWRI offers a wonderful 6-month training opportunity that comprises a lot of benefits to students.

This school is accredited and features high-quality teaching with small class sizes that allow students to access individual instruction. Students gain hands-on and real-world experience.

In addition to the perfect learning curriculum, NWRI provides Financial aid for those who qualify and also offers graduate placement assistance.

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#4. Michigan Technological University

Average Tuition: $15,646(In-state); $33,726(Out-of-state)
Degrees Offered: Degree

If you are looking to earn a degree in a top-quality Rail Transportation Program (RTP), Michigan Technological University is the best place for you. MTU offers a pre-university education, providing opportunities and programming to help students prepare for a rail industry career.

This school features integrated coursework, field trips, research projects, internships, scholarships, and hands-on opportunities. 

The remarkable thing about this school is the wonderful financial aid they offer to students. Each year, the Rail Transportation Program partners in cooperation with the Canadian National, and alumni offer students a competitive scholarship program.

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#5. Coastal Pines Technical College

Average Tuition: N/A
Degrees Offered: Diploma Certificate Associate’s

Coastal Pines Technical College offers a Railroad Systems Management Technology AAS program that prepares graduates for careers as supervisors in the rail industry.

CPTC program is flexible; Students can take General Education Core classes during the days, nights, weekends, and online. The curriculum features a wide range of courses and specializations. Students learn in a conducive environment and also gain hands-on training.

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How Much Do Train Conductors Earn?

The train conductor’s salary is dependent on the region and individual company. From a recent report data, Conductors in the United States make an average salary of $52,432 per year.

In summary, the average median salary of a train conductor ranges widely from $14,000 to $130,000. Nevertheless, there an often a Pay adjustment as passenger trains run at all hours, requiring evening, night, weekend, and holiday shifts.

What is the Job Outlook For Train Conductors?

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics speculates that the overall employment of railroad workers is projected to decline 2 percent from 2018 to 2028. This is due to the decreasing demand for railway transportation.

The first step to becoming a train conductor is to get the relevant information from the right source. If you carefully follow the guide we have provided on this page, you will learn in a way that will benefit you.

Frequently Asked Questions On How to Become a Train Conductor

What is the salary of Train Conductors?

The average annual income for the train or railway conductors is $61,480 per year and $29.56 per hour, according to BLS.

What is the cost to Become a Train Conductor?

The cost of enrolling in a train conductor school ranges between $10,000 to $60,000.

What Skills Do I Required to Become a Train Conductor?

Customer service
Mechanics and operations
Problem-solving skills
Time-management skills


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