A communications and control systems engineer is involved in the planning, design, commissioning and monitoring of complex telecommunications networks and associated broadcasting equipment. Telecommunications engineering, in a rail environment, provides solutions for a wide range of communication needs from basic telephony through to data networks for monitoring and controlling train management systems where repair times need to be very short. It involves planning, developing, installing, testing and commissioning new communications infrastructure. This involves a good understanding of network architecture, transmissions systems and equipment, train control requirements and systems, mobile radio systems, and telemetry systems.
Technology may include: multichannel hierarchical pulse code modulation (PCM) systems, long line digitised voice announcements (LLDVA), wide area networks (WAN) and digital and analogue telephone networks. Signalling systems for controlling and monitoring trackside equipment are rapidly moving to large, centralised, computer controlled SCADA systems. Closed circuit television networks are also carried on the network.
Knowledge, skills and attributes
Telecommunications attracts electrical and telecommunications engineers who enjoy facing challenges and learning new technology. They should like problem-solving and providing feedback to designers or maintenance teams on electrical standards and want to manage communications projects.
A telecommunications career offers opportunities that can be field or office-based or a combination of both. They will often work closely with other professionals including civil, mechanical and computer engineers to pool expertise on projects.
Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development
To become a telecommunications engineer, you will need to have tertiary qualification (bachelor degree or higher) in electrical engineering or engineering – majoring in telecommunications, computer systems, software and mechatronics. Engineers with qualifications from overseas must have their degrees assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ. Central Queensland University (CQU) offers a Graduate Diploma in Railway Signalling and Telecommunications and a Masters in Railway Signalling and Telecommunications which is designed to develop competent and qualified Railway Telecommunications Engineers.
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
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.
Typically, an engineer will progress from an entry level position such as a graduate or assistant engineer through to more senior positions with specialist skills in one of the following areas: project management, operations, asset construction and maintenance, design, development of standards and specific roles such as a senior network engineer or technical specialist. Due to the complexities of the electrical network in rail, it takes time to become a specialist and it may be difficult to move laterally into other specialised areas.
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.
This video provides an excellent overview of RailCorp careers in asset management communications and modern control systems.
The jobs below may require additional qualifications as well as experience.