Starting your engineering career in rail

Engineering career pathways for school leavers

Learn about which engineering career in rail is right for you. Engineers in rail provide technical expertise, advice, design, management, standards, budgeting and planning with respect to the safe and efficient maintenance, construction and upgrading of rail industry assets.

Careers in engineering

It can be overwhelming to decide which engineer career is right for you. The different engineering specialisations in rail are listed below and we encourage you to undertake further research if a specific area is of interest to you.

You can read stories from people working in rail here.

Civil engineering

Civil engineers in rail investigate, plan, design, construct and maintain much of the physical infrastructure of our tracks and support structures such as bridges, tunnels, earthworks and drainage.

a civil engineer may choose to specialise as a chief civil engineer or pursue career opportunities in track and civil design, track and structures maintenance, civil construction management, technical standards and project management.

Electrical engineering

Electrical engineering involves electronics, computer systems, telecommunications, control and electrical power engineering.

Both field work and project management work are involved in this role to deliver the construction and upgrades of electrical infrastructure equipment to deliver electrical power to run the rail system.

Electrical engineers are in demand within rail and there are many career paths available in this specialisation.

Environmental engineering

Environmental engineers are responsible for assessing the environmental impacts of all aspects projects in rail operations.

Working in rail allows environmental engineers to be involved in a variety of tasks ranging from heritage site assessments to providing environmental advice and compliance assessment on new initiatives.

They manage environmental risks during maintenance and construction of projects to ensure that the environment is protected. This role can involve working between the office and outdoors.

Mechanical engineering

Mechanical engineers design and oversee the development of passenger trains, equipment and mechanical services from concept to delivery.

Working as a mechanical engineer involves the entire production process from researching and investigating technical issues, creating and refining concepts, working with draftsmen to lay out technical drawings and delivery and commissioning of works.

Software engineering

Software engineers in rail analyse, design, test, implement, commission, assess and monitor highly sophisticated railway operations, infrastructure, train control and rollingstock related software.

Specialist engineering

With projects ranging from new trains to new railway lines and entire underground railway networks, specialist engineers work on developing new solutions in established and emerging issues in the delivery of rail.

This role involves high power electrical systems to micro-electronic components, applied physics (which includes acoustics and aerodynamics), structural analysis and structural integrity.

Structural engineering

Structural engineers often work with architects, builders and people in mechanical, electrical and chemical engineering to organise and supervise the construction of rail infrastructure.

They conduct research, develop and test innovative solutions to ensure that infrastructure is built in such a way that tracks and bridges are able to withstand natural forces and continual rail traffic.

Study is often combined with civil engineering however certain subjects can be chosen at university in order to specialise in structural engineering.

Telecommunications engineering

Telecommunication Engineers are involved in the planning, designing, commissioning and monitoring of complex telecommunications networks and associated broadcasting equipment.

A telecommunication engineer in rail involves working with a range of communication technology projects with networks and systems.