How to become a train driver


How to become a train driver

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Interested in becoming a train driver but not sure where to get started? Look no further!

Driving trains is a great career choice. Train Drivers in the UK are in high demand and earn an average of £48,000 per year.

To become a Train Driver, most people do a Level 3 Train Driver apprenticeship. This apprenticeship requires Level 2 (GCSE equivalent) qualifications in English and maths. If you don’t have these qualifications, don’t worry! You can study for them alongside your apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships combine on-the-job learning with study. You will be employed full-time 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 to gain important knowledge you’ll need to be a competent Train Driver.

Another pathway is completing a related Level 2 apprenticeship first – for example, a Level 2 Passenger Operative apprenticeship – to get a bit of experience working and studying before applying for the Level 3 apprenticeship.

You could also work in other roles in rail, to gain industry experience. Customer service roles, like helping people in stations or inspecting tickets on trains, are in high demand and often require no previous experience.

How old do I need to be?

You have to be 21 years old to start a Train Driver Level 3 apprenticeship. If you are younger, you can take one of the other pathways detailed above – like working in another role on the railway or doing a Level 2 apprenticeship first.

How long does it take?

Completing a Level 3 Train Driver apprenticeship usually takes 1.5 years. You have to do a certain number of driving hours, both with instructors and on your own. This is alongside about a day a week of study with a training provider.

Where can I work?

You can work for any train operating companies in your area. You need to live near (at most an hour’s car drive) from somewhere on your route. Remember, Train Drivers are in high demand – so if there is somewhere else you are interested in moving to, there is a good chance they are hiring Train Driver apprentices in that area.

What are the career progression opportunities?

There are lots of opportunities for Train Drivers to progress in their careers. As you build more years of experience, you will be able to drive trickier routes and your salary will increase accordingly. From there, you could become a Senior Train Driver – teaching new train drivers – or move into management.

How do I get started?

If you are aged 21 or over, head to our vacancies page and look for Train Diver apprenticeships open for application in your area! If none are being advertised, you could research the train operation companies near you and email them to ask about when they will be hiring next for Train Driver apprentices.

If you are under 21 years old, head to our vacancies page and look for entry-level jobs near you, in stations or on trains. Tell employers you are interested in Train Driving when you are interviewing for roles – it will show you are passionate about working in rail and plan to stay. Your employer will also look for opportunities to help you reach your goal and help you work towards a Train Driving apprenticeship when the time is right.