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Rail systems engineer

Rail engineer

A rail systems engineer is responsible for providing insight and technical engineering expertise on railway projects and systems such as traction power, train and traffic signal controls, fare collection, rail vehicles and more.

Average salary*




Typical hours per week


How to become a rail systems engineer

There are several routes to becoming a rail systems engineer. You could complete a university degree or college course, an apprenticeship or apply to an employer directly. 

You should explore these routes to find out which is the right one for you. Although some of these options have certain qualification requirements, many employers are more interested in people who are enthusiastic, willing to learn and can follow instructions. 

You may need a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card to work on a construction site.


In most cases, to become a rail systems engineer you will require an undergraduate degree. In some instances you will also be required to hold an engineering postgraduate degree, or to have gained chartered status with a relevant engineering body. Recommended subjects include:

  • Civil engineering
  • Electrical and electronic engineering, 
  • Mechanical engineering.

You’ll usually need:

College/training provider

To begin your journey to becoming a rail systems engineer, you could enrol on a relevant college course such as:

  • Level 2 Diploma in Rail Engineering Operative Competence
  • Level 3 Diploma in Rail Engineering Technician
  • Level 4 Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Civil Engineering
  • Level 5 Higher National Diploma (HND) in Construction and the Built Environment.

You'll usually need: 


You could complete a degree apprenticeship in civil engineering to become a rail systems engineer.

You’ll need:

  • 5 GCSEs (including English, maths and science) at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent
  • 2 - 3 A Levels, or equivalent.

Apprenticeships are open to anyone over the age of 16. As an apprentice, you’ll be fully employed by your company and expected to work a minimum of 30 hours a week. Your time will be split between on-the-job experience and a college or training provider.


If you have experience in a similar role, such as civil engineering, or have worked as a rail systems technician, you could apply directly to a company to gain onsite experience as a rail systems engineer. You might start out as an assistant to a more experienced rail systems engineer and progress as your abilities improve.

Work experience

Work experience is essential to gaining employment within the construction industry. You could gain this at school, or by working weekends and holidays with a company or relative who works as a rail systems engineer. Potential employers will always be pleased to see work experience listed on your CV.


Additional skills which may benefit anyone considering a job as a rail systems engineer include: 

  • Knowledge of transport methods, costs and benefits
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • Ability to operate and control equipment
  • Good team working skills
  • Observation and recording skills.

What does a rail systems engineer do?

As a rail systems engineer, you will be responsible for providing technical insight into rail engineering projects for a variety of different systems. 

The job role of a rail systems engineer may involve the following duties: 

  • Overseeing rail engineering design and modelling
  • Providing expert advice on technical rail issues or faults
  • Using computer-aided design software
  • Preparing and submitting reports, studies and models to support business decisions
  • Performing calculations
  • Offering engineering guidance to other team members
  • Ensuring the safety and legal compliance of all engineering work
  • Working with other engineers and designers to decide on solutions to systems issues.

How much could you earn as a rail systems engineer?

The expected salary for a rail systems engineer varies as you become more experienced.

  • Newly trained rail systems engineers can earn £25,000 - £35,000
  • Trained rail systems engineers with some experience can earn £35,000 - £45,000
  • Senior rail systems engineers can earn £45,000 - £70,000.*

Hours and salary depend on location, employer and any overtime you may do.

* Salaries have been collected from multiple industry sources


Check out the latest rail systems engineer vacancies: 

As these are external websites, the number of vacancies related to your preferred role may vary. New opportunities will be posted as they come up.

Career path and progression

As a rail systems engineer, you could progress to become a rail engineering manager or senior manager. Alternatively you could transfer your skills to a similar role such as structural engineering, or civil engineering. 

Progression Opportunities

Explore the progression opportunities below

  • Current role Rail systems engineer Rail systems engineers provide insight, technical expertise & engineering design...
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  • Current role Rail systems engineer Rail systems engineers provide insight, technical expertise & engineering design...
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  • Current role Structural engineer Structural engineers design structures ready to withstand the stresses of the en...
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