Railway Engineer – Career Advice

Railway engineers work on rolling stock rather than infrastructure.

Typical tasks include the construction of new carriages or engines, making new parts or repairing and replacing old ones, fitting out carriage interiors, inspecting stock for damage/wear and tear, doing regular safety and maintenance checks on key systems such as brakes and testing major electrical, mechanical and pneumatic systems.

Railway engineers also write and present reports and keep maintenance records up to date.

It’s often a hands-on job where the ability to work alongside other specialist craftsmen is important.

Rail Transport Engineering apprenticeships are available for school leavers with at least four GCSEs (A-C) in English, maths and a science subject but a lot of jobs go to people with relevant experience in other sectors such as electricians, coach builders and mechanical fitters.

If you land an interview, expect a medical examination to evaluate your fitness, hearing, eyesight and colour vision. Aptitude tests to check on your knowledge and skill sets are also common.

To diversify into track-side work you’ll need a Personal Track Safety (PTS) certificate.

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Other recommended resources:

Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport
An independent professional body for logistics and transport workers, continuing professional development is available to enhance your career in addition to policy updates, research publications and a number of other services available through their membership.

Institute of Civil Engineers: Railway Division
Useful industry news and information is available from their website, however they also operate a number of useful skills and training opportunities including a Engineering Passport Scheme for young and developing graduate engineers and continuing professional development leading to chartered status.

Railway Civil Engineers Association
An organisation aimed at promoting continuing professional development and knowledge exchange through conferences and research, helping the railway community keep up to date with all the latest innovation in the industry.

Tomorrow’s Engineers
Still in school and interested in how you can get involved? Run by EngineeringUK, Tomorrow’s Engineers offer information, inspiration and the path from your school classroom to a job in the field.

Young Railway Professionals
A useful resource for young people interested in getting into or improving their position within the industry, with news and information as well as access to networking and training events.

Railway Engineering: City and Guilds
Information about locations, costs and applications for a City and Guilds qualification in Railway Engineering, helping you to get into the game.

Railway People: training directory
A list of training courses by specialism helping you to find additional qualifications that might enhance an application or help you to pursue a particular line of work.

the Rail Engineer
A digital magazine resource written by railway engineers for railway engineers, it brings you the latest industry news in addition to opinion and debate.

Simon Thompson


Simon Thompson is CEO of jobsforgraduates.com. Simon is a recruitment professional that pioneers the usage of video in recruitment and fully committed to helping young people find employment.