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How to become a train operator

Join the team that helps move New York!

Train operators are responsible for the safe, timely, and proper operation of New York City Transit’s subway cars and trains. They prepare trains for road service, move passengers over assigned routes, make announcements on trains, and operate trains between yards and terminals.  

Want to become a train operator? Here’s how:  

Step 1: Find out if you meet the test requirements.

The MTA offers written tests to become a train operator every four to six years.

To take the written Train Operator test, you will need to meet certain requirements, which may include:  

  • Having a valid New York state driver’s license 
  • Having a four-year high school diploma or an educational equivalent, such as a GED certificate 
  • Having one year of full-time work experience with one employer 

Please note: Requirements may change, so check the Notice of Examination (NOE) before you apply to make sure you’re eligible.  

Notices of Examination (NOE) for each test are posted on the first day of the application period. These contain important information, such as job descriptions, test dates, and how to apply. Check the schedule of upcoming exams each month to make sure you do not miss a NOE posting. 

Some classes or educational certificates offered in countries outside of the United States, its territories, and Washington, D.C., may be used as credit toward the educational requirement of the job. To find out if you have educational experience that qualifies, refer to the Foreign Education Fact Sheet.  

Step 2: Apply to take the train operator exam.

If you believe you meet the testing requirements, you can apply online to take the train operator’s exam. Applications for MTA exams are accepted during a three-week period in any given month. A schedule of upcoming exams and their application periods can be found at the MTA’s Career Center. 

To apply for a test online, you will need to create an account at www.mymta.info/exams. Once you find the exam you want to apply for, follow the instructions onscreen. You can find more information about the process in our Online Application Guide.  

The fee for the train operator’s exam is around $82. If you have any trouble with submitting a payment, please refer to the Online Payment Tutorial. You can also email examsunit@nyct.com if you have issues with your application. 

Fee waiver: The exam fee may be waived for candidates receiving certain city or state benefits, those who are unemployed, or veterans. For more information, please read the Fee Waiver Request Guide

Step 3: Take the written exam. 

The train operator’s exam is a multiple-choice test that will evaluate your reading and writing ability, and your problem-solving, memorization, mathematics, and reasoning skills. 

The MTA will mail you a letter 10 days before the examination date. This letter will include information on where and when your test will be given. Education and Experience requirements for the position will be evaluated after you take the written test.    

You must get a score of at least 70% to pass the train operator’s exam.  

Step 4: Wait to hear from us.

Candidates who have passed the exam and meet the qualification requirements are added to a hiring list, which can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months to create after the final date of the exam.  

Candidates will be notified of their placement on the list when the list is established for use. The hiring list is valid for up to four years from the date it is established.   

A man in an orange safety vest standing in front of a subway car.

If you're called about moving forward to become a Train Operator, these are the next steps:

1. Submit the online application.  
You will receive the application via email. You will then need to print out the application and complete it, and bring it with you to our Brooklyn office on a scheduled date and time. You will be notified of the date and time via phone, text, and email.

2. Head to our Brooklyn office for Day 1 of processing.  
You’ll report to our offices at 180 Livingston street, where you’ll meet with us to review your employment history, and take a drug assessment (this is required for all safety and security positions). It takes 48 to 72 hours to process this assessment. If you pass, you’ll receive a conditional employment offer and be invited back to our office for Day 2 of processing.  

3. Report to Day 2 of processing.  
During processing, you’ll meet with our doctors to undergo a medical assessment. Then, you’ll meet with our team to review all the details about the job, benefits, and training. If you accept, you’ll get all the details about when and where to report to training.  

4. Join the next class of train operators and then hit the road.  
We schedule training classes regularly, and if you accept you can expect to be on the job soon.