Rail engineering technician

Engineering
Produce

Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would build and repair railway engines and carriages so people can travel in safe and comfortable trains.

You would install, check and repair the mechanical and electrical systems in train engines, passenger carriages and other railway vehicles.

You would:

  • Help to build new engines and carriages
  • Fit new carriages with upholstery, lighting, control panels and communication systems
  • Inspect bodywork, roofs and under-carriages for wear and tear or damage
  • Repair or replace parts
  • Make new parts where necessary
  • Do regular checks on systems like brakes and couplings
  • Test mechanical, electrical and pneumatic systems
  • Write reports and update maintenance records

For most tasks you would use different hand and power tools, including welding equipment. You’d follow technical plans drawn up by senior technicians or engineers.

You would work closely with other craftspeople such as carpenters, painters, upholsterers and sheet metal workers.

It would be important to know about safe working practices and quality standards for the industry.

Working conditions

Hours

You would work around 37 hours a week, usually on a shift system, which could include weekends and bank holidays.

Environment

You would spend most of your time in a rail depot or engineering workshop, although you may have some duties outside. Some tasks could be very dirty, but your employer would provide you with protective clothing. There is also a strict policy on drug and alcohol use. You could be tested for drugs or alcohol at any time.

Travel

You may need a driving licence and use of a vehicle to start shifts outside of normal public transport hours.

UK employment status

Full-time

Part-time

Self employed

Here are some of the skills needed for this job. Sign in to see how your skills match up.

  • Time management
  • Attention to detail
  • Recalling
  • Understanding
  • Cooperating
  • Working with numbers
  • Problem Solving
  • Evaluating

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.

Qualifications

The main employer of railway engineering technicians in Britain is Network Rail, which offers an advanced apprenticeship and requires four National 5 qualifications (SCQF level 5) or equivalent for entry.

You can also apply with relevant engineering, mechanical or construction work experience and qualifications. 

If you have a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or degree (SCQF level 9/10) in electrical, mechanical or systems engineering you may be eligible for an electrical engineering conversion course or graduate scheme.

If you are an undergraduate you can apply for a work placement with Network Rail to gain relevant experience.

Useful subjects

Most employers require:

  • English 
  • Maths
  • Science
  • Technologies subjects such as engineering

You will also need

You need to be 17 years old in the year that you are applying.

You will initially complete an online application and if this is successful, you will then complete aptitude tests. If you pass the aptitude tests you be asked to attend an assessment centre for practical tests. You will also have to pass a medical. 

You need to be physically fit, with good eyesight and hearing and normal colour vision.

Network Rail has a zero tolerance policy for drug and alcohol in the workplace and as a result you will undergo regular drug and alcohol tests to make sure you are not under any influence during working hours.

Helpful to have

Relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in Rail Engineering (SVQ level 2) or be willing to work towards qualifications once in a job.