One of the best ways to enter the rail sector is through an apprenticeship. Apprenticeships offer the opportunity to earn while you learn and gain a recognised qualification on completion. Whether you want to work in IT, engineering, business, train driving, human resources or sustainability – there’s a route into rail for you with apprenticeships.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job learning with study. You will be employed full-time (usually 30-40 hours per week) and your employer will pay you wages. You will work with experienced staff at your organisation to build skills and do about a day a week of study, with a training provider or university, to gain important knowledge you’ll need to be competent in your field.

There is a misconception that apprenticeships are only for physical work like construction, but apprenticeships are available for just about any field. Within rail, there is demand for both in-field and office roles – presenting opportunities for a rail apprenticeship and career no matter what your interests.

What type of apprenticeships are there?

Different apprenticeships offer different levels of training – and some fields offer multiple levels. The length of the apprenticeship will depend on the job role and qualification you choose.

Apprenticeships have equivalent educational levels:

  • Intermediate (Level 2) – equivalent to GCSE
  • Advanced (Level 3) – equivalent to A level
  • Higher (Levels 4, 5, 6 and 7) – equivalent to foundation degree and above
  • Degree (Level 6 and 7) – equivalent to Bachelor’s or Master’s degree

Apprenticeships provide a great alternative to full-time degree-level study – although you can still work towards a degree as part of your apprenticeship and graduate at the end.


Reasons to do an apprenticeship

There are many benefits to doing an apprenticeship.

  • Gain hands-on experience
  • Split time between on-the-job learning and study
  • Earn while you learn, with no tuition fees
  • Start your career straight out of school
  • Choose from a wide range of roles
  • Option to work towards a degree
  • Apprenticeship opportunities available across the UK

Hear more from rail apprentices

Apprenticeship schemes in rail

Below you will find information on the various apprenticeship schemes available across the rail sector.

Create an account on Routes into Rail and keep up to date with the latest news on apprenticeship schemes, vacancies and other opportunities across the rail sector.

Colas Rail Black Text

Our Apprenticeship Programmes look to bridge the skills gap facing the industry. At Colas Rail UK, we make the investment in training and development, to nurture the next generation of future engineering talent to fulfil their ambitions.


VolkerRail offer a range of apprenticeship opportunities in both site and office based roles. Apprentices work alongside experienced staff to gain specific skills, as well as receiving classroom-based learning through a formal college programme, to achieve a nationally recognised qualification.


Apprenticeships at Network Rail are designed to provide you with practical on the job training mixed with classroom-based learning.


HS2 are recruiting for 22 new apprentices, with opportunities based in Warwickshire, Birmingham, Milton Keynes and London. The Level 3 and 4 programmes are being offered across a broad range of subject areas from Surveying Technician to Cyber Security Technologist and Commercial Procurement and Supply.


Our ‘Year in Industry’ programme provides an opportunity for engineering undergraduates to experience life first-hand at Porterbrook, where they can contribute to specific projects during their time with the business.

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Whether you’re looking to grow your skills through a graduate programme, apprenticeship or placement, we embrace difference and believe everyone deserves the chance to fulfil their potential. Grow your skills, get training, earn a salary and make an impact whilst doing work that matters.


Our commitment to you, once you join our team, is to foster growth and provide developmental opportunities to ensure you reach your utmost potential.

More Apprenticeship Schemes

We have apprenticeships all around the UK, in all kinds of professional fields. Whichever route you pick, you’ll get to explore innovative technology, learn from experts, and start building the professional future you want.

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Colas Rail's Apprenticeship Programmes look to bridge the skills gap facing the industry. Colas Rail make the investment in training and development, to nurture the next generation of future engineering talent to fulfil their ambitions.

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Costain recruit apprentices in a growing number of disciplines, from accountancy to track and signalling engineering and business administration.

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EMR offer a 4-year programme designed to give practical on the job training in our Fleet Engineering depots, combined with classroom-based learning that will give you all the underpinning knowledge you need to be successful in your apprenticeship.

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Gatwick Express are looking for collaborative, people focused individuals to join our company on an 18 month Station Manager Apprenticeship Scheme. 

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Greater Anglia provides an exciting and challenging apprenticeship programme for aspiring young engineers. A railway specific engineering pathway makes this a unique apprenticeship experience.

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During all GWR programmes, they encourage continuous learning and development. Apprentices work in key areas of GWR; helping to deliver excellent service to our customers.

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Apprenticeships at ScotRail are designed to provide you with practical on the job training mixed with classroom-based learning and associated qualifications.

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Apprenticeships are a great way for Siemens to turn today’s talented young people, like you, into the experts we need tomorrow. Whether you’re interested in Engineering, Business or Finance, there are opportunities here and now for you.

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South Eastern currently offer apprenticeships in Customer Service, Engineering and Business. You’ll achieve a recognised qualification.

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Get your engineering career off to a flying start with our four-year Engineering Apprenticeship. The course is a mixture of practical and written work, preparing you for real working life – they also lead to UK- recognised qualifications.

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Want to earn, learn and launch a career at TransPennine Express?Whichever Apprenticeship programme you join, you’ll be right at the heart of the business, learning from industry experts, enjoying on-the-job training and studying for a nationally recognised standard.

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Keneefia: Track apprentice at Network Rail

I am a Track apprentice. Every day is a different day. Our main job is to maintain the railway - anything from surveying, to making sure the spacing of the railway is correct, to heavy maintenance like welding. The list goes on…
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