Rolling stock engineer
Rail engineering technicians install and service mechanical and electrical systems on trains.
Salary range: £18,000 to £35,000
How to become a rail engineering technician
You can get into this job through:
- a college course
- an apprenticeship
- working towards this role
- applying directly
You could do a college course, which would teach you some of the skills and knowledge you need in this job. Relevant courses include:
- Level 2 Diploma in Rail Engineering Operative Competence
- Level 3 Diploma in Rail Engineering Technician
You’ll usually need:
- 2 or more GCSEs at grades 9 to 3 (A* to D), or equivalent, for a level 2 course
- 4 or 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, for a level 3 course
You can get into this job through an advanced apprenticeship as a rail engineering technician. You can do apprenticeships with Network Rail or Transport for London.
You’ll usually need:
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, including English and maths, for an advanced apprenticeship
- equivalent entry requirements
- guide to apprenticeships
- Transport for London apprenticeships
- Network Rail apprenticeships
You could start out in a rail track maintenance worker. With experience and further training, you could then apply for a technician role.
To apply directly for rail technician jobs you would normally need experience and qualifications as a mechanical fitter, electrician or craftsperson with a rail engineering company, or from elsewhere in engineering. For example, a background as a coach builder or construction plant technician may be helpful.
What it takes
Skills and knowledge
- knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
- to be thorough and pay attention to detail
- patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
- the ability to operate and control equipment
- the ability to work well with others
- concentration skills
- physical skills like movement, coordination, dexterity and grace
- observation and recording skills
- to be able to carry out basic tasks on a computer or hand-held device
Restrictions and requirements
You’ll need to:
- pass a medical check
You may have to take an aptitude test to assess your existing skills and knowledge.
What you’ll do
Your day-to-day tasks may include:
- helping to build new engines and carriages
- fitting out carriages with lighting, upholstery, control panels and communication systems
- inspecting bodywork, roofs and undercarriages for wear and tear or damage
- repairing or replacing parts
- carrying out regular checks on brakes and couplings
- taking apart, testing and reassembling mechanical, electrical and pneumatic systems
- writing reports and updating maintenance records
You could work on rail tracks or in a workshop.
Your working environment may be outdoors some of the time and dirty.
You may need to wear protective clothing.
Career path and progression
You’ll take work-based qualifications in personal track safety, installation, testing and maintenance.
You may work for train operating companies, London Underground, light rail and metro companies, rail freight and leasing firms. Specialist rail engineering maintenance companies are also big employers.
With experience, you could become maintenance team leader or engineering workshop manager.