How to Become a Train Conductor in 2023 | Full Guide

When it comes to career choice, opting for a train conductor is not a terrible choice. It’s a noble profession and has a lot of benefits that come with being a train conductor.

If you decide to pursue a career as a train conductor, then in this article, we have put together a guide to help you become a train conductor without stress. All you need to do is stick to this guide.

In this article, we also tell you about what to expect as a train conductor, what is required of you, and how much you stand to earn as a train conductor.

So, without wasting your time let’s get straight to it.

What Is A Train Conductor/Railroad Conductor?

Railroad conductors operate aboard trains and oversee the daily activities of railway personnel. The loading and unloading of goods are also the responsibility of a freight train conductor.

Working on trains that travel over long, national routes, as well as trains that simply travel locally or regionally, might be part of the job.

Train conductors keep an eye on our trains. A conductor is a member of a railway crew who travels by train to numerous locations while ensuring that freight trains arrive safely.

Conductors keep us moving by switching cars, creating or dismantling trains in yards, and transporting cars between yards, sidings, and tracks.

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What Does A Train Conductor Do?

The ability to do the following activities is frequently required in this profession:

  • Assist in the safe, comfortable, and timely transportation of all passengers.
  • The validity of passenger tickets is verified to ensure that they are on the proper train.
  • Taking money from passengers as they board the train is a common practice.
  • Providing passengers with help as needed during the trip
  • Passengers will be alerted when there will be a halt.
  • Following all aspects of the train’s operations, including instructions, signals, laws, and rules, in accordance with the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) standards.
  • Reviewing and obeying the directions of dispatchers and yardmasters
  • Providing vital travel and safety information to all crew members Conducting a train pre-check prior to departure
  • Inquiring with station personnel regarding schedules, cargo lists, or changes
  • Keep an eye on the rails for route markings and any hazards.
  • Follow the laws, regulations, and procedures that have been established at all times.

Railroad conductors are in charge of making sure freight is correctly loaded, unloaded, and accounted for on cargo trains. Passengers aboard passenger trains rely on conductors to provide a safe and orderly atmosphere.

Receiving tickets, taking money from passengers who have not booked tickets in advance, assisting passengers as required, and informing passengers of upcoming and scheduled stops are all part of this job.

What Are The Requirements Needed To Become A Train Conductor?

Demonstrating your abilities is not enough; you must also fulfill certain requirements before being considered for the role of a train conductor. These are some of the criteria:

  • You must be at least 18 years old to participate.
  • Learn to speak and read English.
  • Be able to regularly push, pull, lift, and carry up to 25 pounds; occasionally up to 50 pounds; and seldom up to 83 pounds.
  • Comfortable walking, sitting, standing, and stooping
  • To be eligible for an interview, you must pass a reading comprehension exam.

What Is The Required Training Of A Train Conductor/Railroad Conductor?

Employer-sponsored training programs are regularly employed to give railroad job training. You can get an entry-level job after graduating from high school and passing a drug test.

Consider getting an associate’s degree or a certificate. Community colleges provide programs in railroad operations, railroad conductor technology, and conductor training, usually in partnership with local railways.

Community college programs will teach your duty as a conductor in maintaining the safe running of a train as well as your responsibility to be aware of changing conditions.

Internships provide hands-on experience in addition to classroom instruction. Your lessons can include railroad history, operation standards, and conductor service responsibilities.

Employers frequently give on-the-job training.

What Is The Job Outlook For A Train Conductor/Railroad Conductor?

According to the Association of American Railways (AAR), freight railways employed approximately 169,000 people in 2015. ( Around 84 percent of staff on Class I railways were unionized at the time.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 91,100 railroad workers in 2018, with 42,360 of them working as conductors and yardmasters.

The BLS expects a 2% decline in employment throughout the industry from 2018 to 2028; however, if people and businesses choose rail transportation for travel and freight as a result of higher petroleum costs, certain railroad jobs may rise.

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What Are The Job Duties And Responsibilities Of A Train Conductor?

Your primary responsibility will be to ensure that each member of your train’s crew completes their assigned assignments.

To handle any difficulties with other trains or track blockages, you’ll work with the yardmaster and engineer. Any technical concerns should be reported to the engineer, and any timetable changes should be communicated to the passengers.

Your primary tasks will be to ensure the safety of passengers and cargo. Your role as a conductor is to maintain track of freight vehicle weight distribution and inventory their contents.

You’ll collect tickets and work with the engineer to fulfill passenger train departure and arrival schedules.

What Skills Does A Railroad Conductor Require?

Railroad conductors should have the following abilities:

Railroad conductors must be able to communicate well with other crew members in addition to speaking effectively with passengers.

Customer service skills: Passenger train conductors interact with passengers who regularly have inquiries, concerns, or require more assistance. Being able to deal with passenger issues is an important component of the job.

Physical stamina: Railroad conductors must be able to stand for extended periods of time, typically on a moving train that stops and starts often.

Anyone running a train must be able to hear warning signs and read and recognize signs in order to be informed of impending stops or potential safety hazards.

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What is the Average salary of a train conductor?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for train conductors was $61,480 in May 2018.

Municipal conductors were paid an average of $59,560 at the time, while those working in the rail transportation industry were paid $62,350.

  • $59,780 ($28.74/hour) is the median annual salary.
  • Annual Salary in the Top 10%: $92,280 ($44.36/hour)
  • Annual Salary for the Bottom 10%: $41,690 ($20.04/hour)

How To Become A Train Conductor

Now to the aim of this article which is the step by step guide to becoming a train conductor. We have summarized this journey for you into 4 easy steps.

Just stick to them and you are assured to become a train conductor in no time.

Step 1: Obtaining A High School Diploma Is A Must.

To work as a train conductor, you only need a high school diploma or a GED. While you’re still in school, you should search for lessons or workshops in electronics, mechanics, engineering, and communication skills.

These skills will aid you in your preparation for certification and entry-level positions.

Step 2: Enroll In College Or Complete A Certification Program.

Passing a conductor certification course is now necessary when seeking for a job as a train conductor.

Courses can be taught in community colleges and other institutions. As a consequence of their association with the FRA, students take supervised tests and obtain recognition from the administration. Prior to full employment, certain train businesses provide certification classes.

In addition to qualifications, conductors must adhere to drug and alcohol rules and meet eyesight and hearing requirements. Once you’ve completed all of the conditions, you’ll be subjected to a background check.

Step 3: Look For Jobs That Are Entry-Level.

Start looking for opportunities in the railroad industry at the entry level. Look for positions on the crew or at the station that have room for advancement.

The more entry-level railroad experience you have, the more likely you are to get employed as a conductor.

Advancement in a corporation might take several years before a position as a conductor becomes available.

Step 4: Obtain A State-Issued License

Check with your employer to see if there are any new licensing requirements, as having them boosts your resume’s competitiveness when a job change occurs.

Licensing requirements might vary depending on the organization and the status of the industry.

Frequently Asked Question

What are the requirements for a railroad conductor’s position?

High school graduation, on-the-job training, and, in certain cases, certification are all required for a railroad conductor’s position.

How long does a railroad conductor’s training take?

Some railroads take aspiring railroad conductors through a six-week training program before assigning them to another type of instruction.

Is a conductor’s job role hard?

While becoming a conductor pays well and gives a secure retirement, it is quite hard.

What skills do conductors need?

Conductors on railroads should have good mechanical, clerical, and customer service abilities. It’s also important to have good communication, organizing, and decision-making skills.
Also, because railroad conductors work closely with train crews, engineers, supervisors, passengers, and yard personnel, interpersonal skills are essential.

How long does a train’s operating crew have to work?

Engineers and conductors sleep at home or in a motel near their away terminal. In the United States, a train’s operating crew is only allowed to work for 12 hours before being released.

What is the dresscode for engineers and freight conductors?

Most engineers and freight conductors nowadays dress in a variety of utilitarian clothes with minimal standardization.
They are required to wear a baseball-style cap with their railroad insignia and steel toe boots, but shirts and slacks are left to the discretion of the wearer.


The article above not only gives you a simple guide to becoming a train conductor but also presents you with what to expect and what is expected from you as you move on in the career path as a train conductor.


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