Locomotive Engineer Salary 2022 – AmTrak, BNSF, Union Pacific, Norfolk Southern

Let’s discuss a locomotive engineer salary as many people are interested.

The locomotive engineer is the one operating the locomotive, he is in charge of delivering the freight or passenger train to its destination safely and efficiently.

There are few requirements you need to fulfil in order be an locomotive engineer, I recommend you to this article for further information.

A locomotive engineer can expect to earn between $76,000 and $120,000 annually or between $38 and $55 per hour. Read below for further details.

In this article we will discuss the locomotive engineer salary, nationwide sorted by state and railroad company.

The United States as of May, 2019 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, has exactly 35,520 locomotive engineers.

locomotive engineer salary

What Determines A Locomotive Engineer Salary

Naturally, like any job, it comes back to you as a person. Your experience, your energy, your presentation & your desire for that role. There are so many contributing factors.

The locomotive engineer salary will greatly fluctuate, just like the train conductor salary, many variables are involved such as:


It is very well known that in some states and locations you can and will get paid more than others. It is really important to do you research here. I have gone through a lot of information and go through the variables of a train conductor salary and the locations below.


Whether you are just getting your license or you have had it for a while is very, very important. As a general rule, more experience equals more money. But, across the board I have found that this is an occupation where experience really does make a difference to your pay checque.

Union Vs Non-Union

This is a tricky subject and something I will go into in another article. The unions in this industry have a lot of power, so do your research extensively beforehand.

Railroad Class

Working for a class 1 railroad as a locomotive engineer can have a totally different and benefits package. I have seen across the board that generally the class 1 railroad company will pay more and offer better benefits.

All the above points are extremely important in finding out how much a locomotive engineer makes, but ultimately it is up to the railroad how much it will offer you.

Where Can I Find The Highest Locomotive Engineer Salary

My research has found that the top paying states for a locomotive engineer are:


The highest locomotive engineer salary can be found in Nevada, where 90% of the locomotive engineers make $134,660/year or which is more than $50/hour. However the annual mean pay is $99,520 which translates in about $48 per hour.
It is interesting to find that out, since Nevada has only 190 locomotive engineers throughout the state and only two Class I railroads, no Class II or III are present in Nevada.

If you are an engineer and you consider relocating for the salary purpose, you should check with the railroads first, perhaps you won’t have to or things have changed meanwhile.

Washington State

The second best state to work as a locomotive engineer from the salary standpoint is Washington State, where the annual mean wage is $89,100, and where 90% of the engineers earn $108,350/year. The state has about 410 locomotive engineers which is almost triple than how many the state of Nevada has, with most of the jobs in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue area.


California is the third state, sorted by how much a locomotive engineer earns annually. The mean annual pay for a locomotive engineer in California is $84,740, where 90% makes $115,140 and 10% about $54,840. The state of California has 1,770 locomotive engineers, ranking the second in the nation after New York state. The jobs are spread quite well throughout the state, we have the data for Los Angeles – Long Beach – Anaheim where 220 engineers are employed, the difference of 1,520 being found all across the state.


The fourth highest mean annual salary for a locomotive engineer can be found in Wyoming, surprisingly there are only 560 engineer positions found in the state. The average salary for a locomotive engineer is $83,670, where 90% of them all earn $111,900 and 10% makes $83,670. Let’s move on the Big Apple.

New York

If we move forward with our locomotive engineer salary research, we found that the state of New York has 1,650 locomotive engineers employed as of May, 2019. New York state is the fifth state ranked by the highest mean annual salary for a train engineer. If you work within the state of NY, it can be expected to earn anywhere between $50,050 (10% earn this much) and $105,500 (90% earn this much).


Nebraska would rank as the sixth best state to work as a locomotive engineer, at least from the financial standpoint, with a mean annual salary of $76,840. About 90% are earning $98,950 and 10% about $52,520 per year.

Other States

Kansas sits at $78,500, followed by Delaware with $78,090, Missouri with $77,660, Maryland with $77,070, Virginia with $75,830, Montana with $75,250, Massachusetts at $75,250, Pennsylvania at $74,700, Minnesota at $74,660, Illinois at $74,330, New Mexico with $73,930, Ohio with $72,400 and South Dakota with $71,340.

locomotive engineer salary

How Many Locomotive Engineers Are There In Each State?

The highest number of locomotive engineers employed are found in the state of Illinois about 1,940, state of Texas 1,760, Pennsylvania with 1,700 engineers and Missouri with 1,350.

What About Other States

In the states of Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Idaho, Wisconsin, Michigan and New Jersey the mean annual salary is between $65,010 and $71,190.

Oregon, Utah, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, North Carolina, Illinois and New Hampshire are the last states we have data on, in these states a locomotive engineer earns an annual salary which ranges between $47,010 and $61,430.

Out of the above mentioned states, the highest number of locomotive engineers employed are found in the state of Illinois about 1,940, state of Texas 1,760, Pennsylvania with 1,700 engineers and Missouri with 1,350.

Now that we’ve covered the locomotive engineer salary by state we will move forward to analyze how much an engineer earns by railroad.

Locomotive Engineer Salary By Railroad

Let’s look further into things by analyzing each major company.

best railroads to work for bnsf

BNSF Railroad

BNSF Railway is a Class I railroad operating in the United States, they have been in the business of building and sustaining the country since the 1850s. Today they operate on a large scale, hiring thousands of people.

So how much a locomotive engineer earns while working for BNSF Railway?

The average salary that a locomotive engineer with experience is expected to earn while working for BNSF railway is between $105,000 and $160,000. The entry level salary could be as low as $60,000 or even lower depending on your location.

As you probably know, Class I railroads are offering the best salaries and benefits and BNSF Railway is no different. They offer a great range of benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, retirement plans and wellness programs.
If you are wondering how much a locomotive engineer at BNSF Railway earns per hour, the answer is between $40 to $70ph.

union pacific train conductor salary

Union Pacific

Locomotive engineer salary – Union Pacific

Union Pacific has been building and sustaining the country for 155 years, operating 8,300 locomotives on over 32,000 miles of track. UP as well as BNSF Railway offers great benefits and competitive salary, anyhow according to GlassDoor.com, UP locomotive salary is less than the one offered by BNSF Railway, ranging between $96,000 and $133,000. The entry level salary could be as low as $60,000.
A locomotive engineer working for Union Pacific is expected to earn anywhere from $38 to $60 per hour.

csx train conductor salary

CSX – Locomotive Engineer Salary

CSX Transportation operates around 21,000 miles of track. They’ve been around for 33 years and they’re headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida.

They have been sustaining the country as well as the other railroads, employing thousands of people.
If you are planning to work as a locomotive engineer for CSX Transportation it is expected you will earn between $87,000 and $132,000. The entry level salary could be as low as $60,000. They also offer great benefits, like medical insurance, visual, dental as well as wellness programs.

If you are wondering how much a locomotive engineer working for CSX Transportation makes per hour, the answer is between $38 and $58.

norfolk southern engineer jobs

Norfolk Southern – Locomotive Engineer Salary

Norfolk Southern is not as big as the above mentioned railroads, they are a Class I thought, out of which you can expect a good salary with great benefits.
The railroad operates in 22 states on 19,500 miles of track, employing thousands of people throughout the nation.
You can also expect to learn less than while working for the above mentioned railroads, but this can be influenced by your experience and location, so I suggest you contact them and obtain a more accurate salary, it might be just the same.
A locomotive engineer working for Norfolk Southern earns between $91,000 and $114,000, where the entry position salary can be as low as $60,000.
Per hour locomotive engineer salary at Norfolk Southern would be between $38 and $50.

best railroads to work for amtrak

Amtrak – Locomotive Engineer Salary

AmTrak is pulling passenger cars, not freight as the above mentioned Class I railroads. While the railroad employs more than 20,000 it serves over 500 destinations in 46 states.

If you are thinking of working as a locomotive engineer for AmTrak it is worth mentioning that you can expect to earn decent money, as good or even better than some of the freight railroads offer.

Locomotive engineer salary at AmTrak will range between $87,000 and $130,000 per year.
AmTrak offers great benefits as well, according to their website they will cover health insurance, retirement plans as well as wellness programs.

Working for a railroad, especially for a Class Is is not as easy as people think, it will require you to be gone from home for days, working night shifts, weekends and/or holidays. As you noticed the salary and the benefits are great, is it worth it? Only you have the answer, since every person’s situation is different.

Again, I am biased, have I mention that working for the railroads is one of the best jobs in the world :)?

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