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

An engineering technologist analyses and modifies new and existing engineering technologies and applies them in the testing and implementation of engineering projects. Registration or licensing may be required. As an engineering technologist in the rail industry, you focus on interactions within the system, modify and adapt established engineering practices, and advance engineering technology relevant to your specific engineering discipline. Registration or licensing may be required.

Specifically you may:

  • Assist in the design and development of engineering projects in your discipline
  • Modify established practices or apply newly developed engineering practices in your discipline
  • Oversee specialist engineering tasks such as design drafting, estimating and operations control 
  • Test and evaluate materials and techniques relevant to your discipline
  • Provide marketing and support advice on engineering products relevant to your discipline
  • Outline work programs and review these for accuracy, adequacy and feasibility 
  • Plan, supervise and coordinate the work of others

Knowledge, skills and attributes

Engineering technologists 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 solutions (within the bounds of fundamental principles, technical standards and safety limits) to come up with the best way of doing things.

Working conditions

As an engineering technologist, you may have the opportunity to travel and work in both metropolitan and regional areas. You may also work  in temporary rail project teams with other passionate professionals and technicians.  As well as gaining comprehensive training and experience in the rail industry, you may also have the opportunity to develop external experience with private contractors.

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

The entry requirement for this occupation is a bachelor degree or higher qualification in Australia, or a NZ level 6 qualification in engineering technology. In some instances, relevant experience is required in addition to the formal qualification. Registration or licensing may be required. In Australia, the academic qualification is an Engineers Australia accredited course or a recognised three year engineering technology degree. Overseas engineers must have qualifications assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ.

The rail industry provides many opportunities to increase your knowledge and skills. The best way to learn about the rail industry is through on-the-job training and attending in-house courses. Additional tickets, certification, registration or licences may be required to work in the rail corridor. This will depend on your state legislative and organisational requirements. Requirements may include: first aid, work health and safety (WHS) and rail safety. Contact your local rail authority to enquire about licensing or registration requirements.    

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. 

Typically, an engineering technologist 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 maintenance and construction, design and development of standards . Eventually, with further studies and experience you may become a chief engineer.

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. 

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 an engineering technologist