How Do I Become a Train Driver Trainee?

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  • Written By: Lori Kilchermann
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 17 September 2019
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If you want to become a train driver trainee, the process begins long before you apply with a local railroad. You must posses a clean driving record and demonstrate your ability to be responsible through prior employment positions. You will also be required to complete a train safety course once you have been accepted onto the railroad. Other steps to become a train driver trainee include passing a battery of tests, from mental health to concentration and stress tests. Once all of the training has been successfully completed, you may be hired on with the railroad to become a train driver trainee.

It is typical for all beginning engineers to become a train driver trainee on a passenger train. The position of freight train engineer is typically a very requested job for senior railroad employees. This is due, in part, to the reduced speed, weight and distances traveled by the passenger train as compared to a freight train. Most railroad companies will not consider anyone for the position of engineer with a clean driving record of fewer than five years. This means that in order to become a train driver trainee, you must begin your preparation several years prior to actually contacting the railroad.


The task of operating a train is extremely demanding and the operator must demonstrate responsibility in previous jobs, so if you want to become a train driver trainee, you must have an exemplary work history before applying to drive a train. Team leaders, foremen and group leaders or supervisors are often chosen before lesser employees once the applicant's work history is taken into account. Several tests must be taken before you are even considered to drive a train. Mental testing to measure concentration ability, reflexes and color blindness are given to new applicants.

One of the final tests you will need to take before you are considered to become a train driver trainee is a drug test. Once all of your test scores have been calculated, any extra-curricular bonus, such as mechanics, math and prior leadership, will be added into your final score. You will then be compared to other applicants and the best of the bunch will be contacted to become a train driver trainee. If selected, you will typically work under the supervision of an experienced engineer for several months in the railroad yard prior to beginning work as a passenger train engineer.


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