Engineer at Network Rail

Is a career in engineering right for me?

If you have great problem solving skills, are able to explain your ideas clearly and want to be part of projects that will improve the public’s transport links then a railway engineering career could be great for you. You’ll help to make railway designs and see them come to life as well as identifying and addressing any issues that you may come across in your chosen technical speciality.

Perks and challenges of being an Engineer


  • You’ll use your problem solving skills on a daily basis as well as advising colleagues using your technical know-how.
  • This is a role in which you’ll see the work you designed and implemented being used by thousands of passengers.


  • Sometimes, you’ll have to be assertive (explain your decisions with calm confidence so people can see why you’ve made them) when contractors want to carry out a project in a certain way. You’re responsible for the project being delivered correctly, on time and to budget.

Useful skills

The following skills are very useful:

  • Problem solving – using your technical knowledge, you’ll need to be able to pick up a design/ technical drawing, spot faults and resolve them. Sometimes there may not be an obvious answer, so your logical thinking and detective skills will go a long way to finding a solution!
  • Communication skills - you’ll be working with a team of engineers as well as meeting contractors. You’ll need to be able to explain your ideas and plans in a way that everyone understands, as they may not have the same technical knowledge as you.

People who work in this role say that the following skills and qualities are useful:

  • Confidence – being able to talk to a wide range of people, and in some cases taking a leadership role to direct them too.
  • Critical thinking – being able to think outside the box to come up with different ways to improve the railway.
  • Numerical – a big part of this role is being able to interpret technical drawings and calculations so being confident in STEM subjects will help you in this role.

What qualifications do you need to be an engineer?

There’s more than one route into an engineering career. You can take the university route to gain specialised knowledge, but you can also apply for an apprenticeship with Network Rail and start your career through on-the-job training and learning. Many engineering apprenticeships generally require five GCSEs or their equivalent with good passing grades including English, maths and a science-related subject – but you can check with the apprenticeship you apply for to find the exact qualifications required.

If you study for an engineering degree, you can support that knowledge with experience of working in the railway industry, either through an industrial placement or work experience. Then you’ll be able to work up to managing engineering projects on the railway.

What is the workplace of an engineer like?

You’ll often be office-based. However, when construction or maintenance or installation work is taking place you’ll get the opportunity to go on site.

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