How to get started in the rail industry

There are many ways to get started in a rail career. Discover the most common paths.

Work experience

Want to try out a rail career before you decide, or gain some work experience for your CV? Rail offers lots of opportunities for young people to get a taste of what it is like to work in the industry. You could be shadowing engineers, guards, technicians, project managers, signallers, data analysts – to name a few!

Many work experience placements can result in an offer of employment or an apprenticeship place. Regardless, you will gain a clearer understanding of the day-to-day tasks of different careers and what career paths interest you – as well as experience on your CV that stands out to future employers.

Read more about work experience and discover opportunities here.


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. There is a misconception that apprenticeships are only for physical work like construction, but apprenticeships are available for just about any field.

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.

Read more about apprenticeships and discover opportunities here.

Graduate roles

Thinking about going to university? There are so many graduate schemes and roles you can apply for in the rail industry once you have completed your degree. Rail offers well-paid roles in a range of areas to recent graduates – engineering, accounting and finance, HR, IT and sustainability, among others.

Read more about graduate roles and discover opportunities here.

Entry-level jobs

Just want to get started in a career and skip the study? Rail has lots of entry-level roles on offer that you can jump into without any prior experience. And with so many progression opportunities in rail, you can get started now and watch your career grow.

Customer service is a great place to start when looking for entry-level roles in rail. Work at a station, on a train, in an office, or provide help over the phone – there are so many options. You can progress to become a team leader or station manager – or maybe after working with so many people in different roles, you will find another rail career to pursue!

Start searching for vacancies now!

Career changers

Rail has career options for people of all ages and with many different types of experience. Whether you have experience in customer service, administration, IT, finance, human resources, project management or sustainability – or are looking for something completely new – there is a career in rail for you.

With such a wide range of roles, you may start in one specialisation and, once you gain experience, transfer to another area, either within the same employer or within the wider industry. The skills you learn in rail are highly transferable.

People are needed in the rail industry right throughout the UK, so there is demand no matter where you are based. If you want to retrain, apprenticeships are a great option – they’re not just for school leavers. Learn on the job and get paid at the same time.

Read more about roles for career changers and discover opportunities here.

Career progression

New projects, technology and exciting innovations in rail create lots of variety and progression opportunities.

The rail industry encompasses a wide range of roles. This diversity offers lots of opportunities for specialisation and progression in a career that interests you. As you gain experience in the industry, you can specialise in specific areas and take on roles with increased responsibility. The variety of roles and transferability of rail skills also means you can change to another area of work if you want a new challenge.

Training and development are prioritised in the rail industry. Rail companies invest a lot in training and development programs to enhance the skills of their employees, so they can specialise, progress and stay up to date with the latest technologies.

There are also lots of opportunities to network and engage with professional associations in rail to open new doors and help build a successful career.

Hear from real people working in rail