Did you know?

In 2013, people from non-English speaking backgrounds represent about one-tenth of engineers who work in the Australasian rail industry.

Occupation description

As a civil engineer, in a rail environment, you will be involved in the investigation, design, construction and maintenance of the railway track, terminals and yards, and supporting structures such as bridges, tunnels, earthworks and drainage. It also includes managing the assets through inspection, repair and replacement processes to ensure they are kept in optimum condition. The investigation, construction and maintenance of track and other railway structures in a 'live' rail environment offer unique challenges to civil engineers to improve materials, designs and processes.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

Civil engineers enjoy the challenge of operating in a dynamic environment and facing new challenges. You need to be able to take responsibility for your designs, installations and management; like solving technical problems and challenging the status quo. You also need to enjoy developing creative design and construction solutions (within the bounds of fundamental principles, technical standards and safety limits) to come up with the best way of doing things. You must have a high regard for safety.

Working conditions

As a civil engineer, you will have the opportunity to travel and work in both metropolitan and regional areas. You will also work within temporary rail project teams and with other passionate professionals and technicians.

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

To become a civil engineer, you need to have tertiary qualifications (bachelor degree or higher in civil engineering). Engineers with qualifications from overseas must have their degrees assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ. If you know you want to specialise in track design, construction or maintenance, you may have the opportunity to undertake the Queensland University of Technology Masters of Engineering in Railway Infrastructure.            

The value of a career in the rail industry

For even more details on what you might earn, the diversity of companies you could work for and the career opportunities available, visit the following careers and training websites. Careers in Rail by the Australasian Railway Association, About the Rail Industry by Rail Skills Australasia and Rail Training by the Transport and Logistics Industry Skills Council (TLISC).

For more information

Career paths

The rail industry offers a wide range of opportunities. There are many options open to you, and your career may take many turns depending on what stage you are at in life and your personal circumstances. You may also have opportunities to work with rail partners on large infrastructure projects.

Once in the rail industry, to progress in a career, you will need to complete additional studies or authorisations which will depend on operational and state requirements.

Due to the complexities of the rail environment, it takes time to become a specialist and it may be difficult to move laterally into other specialised areas. Typically, a civil engineer will progress from an entry level position such as a graduate or assistant engineer through to a more senior position with specialist skills in one of the following areas: project management, operations, asset construction and maintenance, design, and development of standards. Eventually, you may become a chief engineer. See flowcharts below for the career paths of a civil engineer, civil design engineer and a civil construction engineer.

The information provided here is generic. Job titles and the experience and qualifications needed to move into other jobs may vary depending on the structure and needs of your organisation and government rules and regulations.


Career Path Flowchart

Typical career path for a civil engineer


Typical career path for a civil design engineer


Typical career path for a civil construction engineer