Train conductor vs train engineer which is better

If you wonder about the differences between a train conductor and a train engineer, you’re right.

In this post, we’re going to explain in our article the following:

  • differences between the train conductor and the train engineer
  • What does a train conductor do?
  • What does a train engineer do?
  • The salary of train conductor vs train engineers

also, give some tips to prevent falling into some mistakes choosing between these 2 careers. So keep reading to miss the steps.

Train conductor vs train engineer

The main difference between a train conductor and a train engineer is that a train engineer is a leader or the boss on a train. In other words, a train engineer is a person who drives a train and makes critical decisions. It is the highest experienced one. While a train conductor executes the train engineer’s instructions and takes care of passengers or freights.

Normally train engineers begin as train conductors. After getting a certain amount of experience, they apply to train engineering positions. So, in general, a train engineer is the only person who drives a train. A train conductor is a partner who takes other occupations that we will take about later in our article.

What does a train engineer do?

we’re going to list the 3 main occupations that differentiate a train engineer from a conductor, which are:

  • a train engineer drives a train, not a conductor
  • train engineers work in heavy trains, not subways
  • a train engineer has bigger responsibilities than a conductor

A train engineer drives a train, not a conductor.

As we said before, a train engineer is responsible for driving a train, not a conductor. It deals with the technology tools to control a train. While a conductor executes many tasks and checks that the train engineer suggests.

So, in general, the leader is a train engineer. He doesn’t leave the control room. While the conductor is considered a partner who takes care of passengers and checks out the state of the train outside.

Train engineer has the responsibility to be careful and preserve people’s life by warning them to go away from the road because a lot of rail tragedies happen every year.

Train engineers work in heavy trains.

Train engineers don’t work in subways. They work on heavy trains like passengers train or freight trains. For this reason, train engineers to take a specific formation to take this occupation.

As a train engineer, there is not a 9-5 job. You will work in shifts. You will work in the evenings, mornings, and nights. It requires high resilience and patience.

For this reason, all train engineers say that if you don’t love this job, you won’t be able to stay in it. It is not for anyone.

Train engineers spend more than 75% of their time traveling. So they face different climate changes like snow and rai. It is a stressful job, especially when you have a heavy train to cross the civil road.

The train engineer has to be vigilant and warn people to prevent tragedies every year, causing hundreds of deaths in the united states.

Train engineer has big responsibilities than conductor do

The train engineer has bigger and heavier responsibilities than the conductor does. The train engineer is responsible for all technical equipment of the train. In other words, he must:

  • monitoring gages meters
  • doing brake examination test
  • expecting different trains
  • Monitor speed,
  • monitor air pressure, battery use,
  • keep watching a control unit
  • Communicate with dispatchers and receive instructions from them
  • to make mechanical adjustments to a train when necessary

So the train engineer has a big responsibility to ensure the safety of the train and if it runs smoothly.

What does a train conductor do?

We’re going to list the 3 principal differentiation characteristics that a train conductor focuses on.

1 – Train conductors don’t drive trains

Most people get confused in this part, but they have to know that a train conductor doesn’t drive a train. In other words, the train can’t be moved if a train engineer doesn’t attend.

The train conductor can work and help a train engineer, but he will never take control and drive a train simply because he doesn’t have enough knowledge and experience.

2 – The train conductor coordinates the activities of the train crew or passengers

Train conductors do all the task that relates to passengers, the main job of a train conductor is taking care of passengers and their needs.

The first thing that a train conductor does is check passengers’ tickets and make announcements about the next destination. The train engineer is out of this job.

In other words, he doesn’t have to connect or deal with people. All his concentration is on managing and controlling the train tools that keep it running smoothly.

While in freights trains, a train conductor ensures to load or unload cargo and makes inspections to move a train to another terminal.

Sometimes freight train conducts make an equipment checking while a train is moving. But the speed doesn’t have to exceed 4 miles per hour.

3 – help a train engineer and coordinate with him

The third principal job of a train conductor is to help and coordinate with the train engineer. Normally a train conductor receives instructions and consigns for 2 persons:

  • train engineer
  • manager of train operations

But in most cases, a train conductor deals solely with a train engineer and executes his instructions. In other words, a train conductor is a solid partner of a train engineer.

Train conductor vs train engineer salary

According to a Bls train conductor earn $64,150 per year while the locomotive engineer or train engineer gets $90,000 a year. So there is a significant difference in the salary.

But both positions are good if you are a train conductor. Earning $64,150 is a good wage that will pay the bills and ensure all your necessities.

But the good thing is train engineer has the lowest entry barrier job. In other words, it doesn’t require having a college degree. We will explain that in detail in the next paragraph.

Train conductor vs train engineer education

Both Train conductors and train engineers don’t need to go into college like other stem engineers field who spend 4 years and get 100k of debt. In other words, you don’t need a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree to get into this field.

To become a train or an engineer conductor, you will need to have a high school degree or GED. So the train conductor and engineer conductor don’t have differences in degree.

But what makes a train conductor earn much more money than a train conductor, is the experience. In other words, to become a train engineer, in most cases, you will need to work as a train conductor to build skills and knowledge in this area.

So, experience is the only thing that will guarantee you to advance to a train engineering occupation.


As a recommendation, only goes to this major or field if you love it. So we will not recommend doing this occupation for money. It will be very hard.


Yassin ajanif is a physics graduate and electromechanical engineer width more than 5 years in the field. My goal and my team are to share our experience to help you succeed in your career as a stem major. we talk about all tips, problems, and struggle STEM students face in their career and how to overcome them.