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What Is a Locomotive Mechanic?

Feb 19, 2021 ·

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Diesel locomotives provide useful ways to transport things — whether it’s people or cargo — from one destination to another. Many companies rely on the operation of trains to get products where they need to go.

To get the power they need, trains rely on diesel engines. They’re internal combustion engines and have to be maintained so this mode of transportation can remain operational.

Locomotive mechanics, also known as train or railroad mechanics, are responsible for maintaining the diesel engines in these trains as well as other equipment vital to their operation. Those interested in the transportation industry who like working with their hands might consider a career as a locomotive mechanic.

If working as a locomotive mechanic sounds like something you would be interested in, keep reading to find out more details and steps you can take to pursue such a career.

Locomotive Mechanic Job Description

Being aware of some of the duties and responsibilities of a locomotive mechanic can help you decide if it might be a good career fit for you.

Locomotive mechanics have a range of duties and tasks they might perform on a daily basis to help maintain the operation of the components powering trains. These can include:

  • Operating heavy equipment, such as hydraulic lifts and mechanical drills
  • Ensuring compliance with all railroad rules and regulations for safety
  • Inspecting components for compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA)
  • Diagnosing malfunctions in train equipment
  • Replacing locomotive and diesel engine components
  • Servicing locomotives, including changing fuel and oils
  • Maintaining records of maintenance and repairs performed on equipment
  • Using gas or electrical welding equipment to join metals and alloys
  • Traveling to various locations to make repairs

As mentioned above, complying with safety standards set by the FRA is something all locomotive mechanics need to keep in mind. Attention to detail and the desire to work in a hands-on environment could indicate this is the field for you.

How to Become a Locomotive Mechanic

A career as a locomotive mechanic requires education and training. Knowing how different locomotive parts work and operate is important for those pursuing this career. This is why hands-on experience is crucial — to ensure things are done right in the field.

Hands-on experience and a foundation of knowledge from a trade school can help set you up for success when thinking about a future as a locomotive mechanic. Attending a school like Universal Technical Institute (UTI) is a great place to start.

Diesel student works on an engine in a UTI lab.

The Diesel Technology program at UTI is designed to help students build a foundation of knowledge that can be applied to a range of entry-level jobs in the industry after they graduate. UTI also offers additional diesel specialized training programs that allow you to further elevate your skill set.11

Locomotive Mechanic Salary and Job Outlook

Having as much information as possible is important when you’re considering a future career. While there is no specific information for a locomotive mechanic salary according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there is some data that can offer some insight.

The data from the BLS shows expected median salaries for diesel service technicians and mechanics, which can give you a general idea of what you might expect as a locomotive mechanic. According to the BLS, the median annual salary for diesel service technicians and mechanics in the United States was $54,360 in May 2022.29 This means half of diesel technicians earned more and half earned less. Keep in mind that salary depends on several factors, including experience, employer, demand and cost of living in the area.

Locomotive mechanics play important roles in the transportation industry working on equipment that allows trains to run and perform efficiently. The various trades and industries utilizing these modes of transport helps to keep mechanic roles open.

Pursue a Career as a Locomotive Mechanic

If the idea of working on trains as a full-time career sounds like it’s up your alley, one of the first steps you can take is training at a trade school. The Diesel Technology program at UTI can help you get the hands-on experience you need that can leave you feeling prepared for an entry-level career in the industry.2

Interested in finding out more about how you can train for a career as a locomotive mechanic? Visit our website to request information about the diesel program we offer and more.

UTI Campuses That Offer Diesel Mechanic Training

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1) UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary.

2) For program outcome information and other disclosures, visit

11) See program details for eligibility requirements and conditions that may apply.

29) UTI’s Diesel Technology Program prepares graduates for entry-level positions using the provided training, primarily as diesel technicians. Estimated annual salary shown above is for Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists as published in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages. Entry-level salaries are lower for UTI graduates. UTI is an educational institution and cannot guarantee employment or salary. UTI graduates’ achievements may vary. Individual circumstances and wages depend on economic factors, personal credentials, work experience, industry certifications, the location of the employer, and their compensation programs. Some UTI graduates get jobs within their field of study in positions other than as diesel truck technicians, including in industries such as heavy equipment repair, power generation, and agriculture. Salary information for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts: The average annual entry-level salary range for persons employed as Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists (49-3031) in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is $32,360 to $94,400 (Massachusetts Labor and Workforce Development, May 2020 data Salary information for North Carolina: The U.S. Department of Labor estimates the hourly median wage for skilled diesel technicians in North Carolina is $24.18 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, May 2022 Occupational Employment and Wages, Bus and Truck Mechanics and Diesel Engine Specialists). The Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish entry-level salary data. However, the 25th and 10th percentile of hourly earnings in North Carolina are $20.56 and $17.49, respectively.

Universal Technical Institute of Illinois, Inc. is approved by the Division of Private Business and Vocational Schools of the Illinois Board of Higher Education.


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