Did you know?

Many trades can be started while you are still at school. Ask your careers advisor about schools-based trades and rail traineeships.

Occupation description

Fitter and turners set up machinery to manufacture engineering products, repair or replace components, install and maintain plant and machinery, including the assembly of crossings and switch and stock rail units and construction and commissioning work. In the rail industry, you will be trained to operate lathes, milling machines, drills, grinders, oxy-acetylene cutting equipment and electric welders as well as general hand and power tools and general fitting. You will also use specialist measuring equipment, and work from detailed drawings.

Knowledge, skills and attributes

You will enjoy working with your hands, be precise and accurate, and have some maths ability. You must have a strong regard for safety.

Working conditions

You will be paid while you complete your apprenticeship studies. You may travel and work in metropolitan and regional locations to develop your skills. You may also work with private contractors. This is a physically demanding job and you will be mainly working in busy (sometimes noisy) workshops.

Entrance requirements and ongoing training and development

  • New Zealand: Mechanical trade qualification and a post study trade certificate. Entry requirements vary but employers usually require NTEA1 for entrance into a trade course with good results in maths and English. You will be expected to up-skill as technology changes through in-house or external training and certifications.
  • Australia: Mechanical trade qualification such as Certificate III in Engineering - Mechanical and post study trade certificate. Entry requirements vary, but employers usually require Year 10. You will be expected to up-skill as technology changes through in-house or external training and certifications.

Some organisations may also run a mechanical traineeship. Additional tickets, certification, registration or licences may be required to work in the rail corridor, depending on organisational requirements and government legislation. 

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

Typically, you will progress from an entry level position such as an apprentice, through to more senior roles in your area of specialisation, such as a supervisor a technical specialist. Once in the rail industry, to progress your career, you will need to complete additional studies or authorisations which will depend on operational and legislative requirements. You may decide to continue your study to become a professional mechanical engineer.

This information is generic. Job titles and the experience and qualifications needed to move into other jobs may vary slightly 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 fitters and turners