Signalling Design Engineer at Network Rail

What is a signalling design engineer?

Are you interested in creating things? Like knowing how things work? Want to be part of large-scale projects which will have an impact on thousands of people? If so, a career in signalling design could be a great fit for you.

As a signalling design engineer, you’ll be a specialist railway engineer who uses CAD (computer-aided design) to create electrical circuits for railway signalling. You’ll also liaise with stakeholders (train operators) to come up with great designs that everyone’s happy with. As well as this, during construction you’ll travel to railway sites where your signalling designs are being installed to check they’re being implemented correctly.

What does a Signalling Design Engineer do?

As a signalling design engineer for Network Rail, who owns, operates and maintains the railway which train operating companies run their trains on, you’ll ensure the railway is safe by designing signalling systems. Signalling is incredibly important - it allows the trains to move safely on the network.

As a signalling design engineer you’ll be designing signalling systems for the railway. This could mean upgrading older signalling systems or designing brand-new ones for projects like HS2 and the Digital Railway. You’ll be flexing your design muscles by using CAD (computer-aided design), making sure that all the components and electrical circuits work and can be implemented on the railway.

Is a career in signalling design engineering right for me?

If you’re an adaptable person who likes making things work and has great problem-solving skills then a railway engineering career could be great for you. You’ll help to maintain and develop new signalling systems for a booming railway system. Thanks to the efforts of people like you, passengers and freight can travel smoothly and safely every day.

How to become a signalling design engineer

First things first - you’ll need to study maths and science-related subjects at school. This will build solid foundations to your engineering career.

At school and beyond, take the opportunity to network and meet like minds in a science and engineering field. As an example, there are a number of science careers events held annually around the country, like The Big Bang Fair and Technopop. Attending these events is very inspiring, and also a great way to meet employers offering opportunities, networks to join and people in the jobs you want who are happy to answer any questions.

You can study for vocational qualifications – like engineering NVQ courses - to help you build up the skills and knowledge you need. You can also take these courses through an employer as part of a structured earn-while-you-learn programme. Take a look at our Course Finder to research what’s available.

Your first step after education is to get a job in the field of engineering – either a graduate role, an entry-level role or an apprenticeship like the one offered by Network Rail. Network Rail offer two signalling courses to go on as part of their signalling graduate scheme: these are basic and intermediate signalling. They each take two weeks and they’re structured to build your knowledge gradually so you can absorb all the new things you’re learning.

A career-boosting next step once you’ve got an engineering job is to achieve chartered engineer status (which is required for this role). You can get this globally recognised qualification through organisations like the IET.

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