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

In a rail environment, an environmental engineer involves providing technical assistance and service to line managers, operational staff, contractors, operators, and alliance partners on environmental issues and solutions to environmental problems associated with rail operations. They are involved in the feasibility and concept design stages of projects and provide strategic advice consistent with broader environmental policies and systems.

Their work includes preparing technical briefs and conducting environmental impact assessments from day-to-day maintenance to major rail works. Some organisations will use external consultants to undertake some of these tasks, and in these cases, the environmental engineer may play more of a project management role.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

The rail environment attracts environmental engineers who are willing to take responsibility for their assessments and recommendations; enjoy developing creative solutions (within the bounds of relevant government legislation) to come up with the best way of doing things. They need the ability to maintain effective working relationships with environmental authorities and agencies; well-developed oral and written communication/presentation skills; and with a capacity for successful negotiation, stakeholder consultation and issue resolution.

Working conditions

They may operate as a member of a virtual team and work indoors and in the field/on-site. Environmental engineers frequently work closely with other professionals including members of government agencies and regulatory authorities. 

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

Environmental engineers need to have an appropriate tertiary degree in environmental, science, engineering or an equivalent qualification. They may have specialised in areas such as noise, water, land management, natural resources or geographic information systems. Professional memberships may be required for specialisations, for example, noise specialists would join the Australian Acoustical Society. Proven project management capacity would be a requirement for progression.

Engineers with qualifications from overseas must have their degrees assessed by Engineers Australia or the Institute of Professional Engineers NZ.

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 where you are at in life and your personal circumstances. Typically, an environmental engineer will progress from an entry level position such as a graduate or assistant engineer through to a more senior positions such as a principal environmental engineer or environment and planning manager. You may specialise in noise and vibration, water, remediation or auditing. Project management will form an important part of any progression.

Once in the rail industry, you will need to complete further tertiary studies or authorisations to progress. In addition, strong project management, negotiation and conflict resolution skills will be required to progress in this area. Deep knowledge and understanding of issues and regulations related to environmental management will also be required.

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

Related Jobs

The jobs below may require additional qualifications as well as experience.

Career Path Flowchart

Typical career path for an environmental engineer