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Rail engineering technicians install and service mechanical and electrical systems on trains.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £18,000 to £35,000 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 37 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

You'll usually need experience and qualifications as a mechanical fitter, electrician or craftsperson with a rail engineering company.

You must pass a medical check which tests physical fitness, hearing and eyesight. You may also have an aptitude test to assess your skills.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship

Network Rail and Transport for London have more information about this job.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • mechanical and electrical skills
  • the ability to interpret technical drawings
  • report-writing skills
  • communications skills to work closely with other craftspeople

3. What you'll do

You'll follow technical plans drawn up by senior technicians or engineers. You'll use hand and power tools, including welding equipment. 

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'll work closely with other craftspeople like carpenters, painters, upholsterers and sheet metal workers.

4. Salary

Starter: £18,000 to £22,000

Experienced: £25,000 to £30,000

Highly Experienced: £35,000 or more

You may get free or discounted rail travel.

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

You'll work around 37 hours a week, usually in shifts, which could include weekends and bank holidays.

You'll spend most of your time in a rail depot or engineering workshop, with some duties outside on the sidings. Some tasks are dirty but you'll usually have protective clothing and footwear.

There's a strict policy on drugs and alcohol. You could be tested at any time.

You may need a driving licence and your own transport to start shifts outside public transport hours.

6. 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.

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Last updated: 13 September 2018