Your guide to rail and becoming a train driver

The rail industry offers all types of careers – customer facing roles for the people-person, strategic roles for the logical minded, and management positions for leaders. The front-facing staff provide the day-to-day service we’re used to seeing when we visit a train station, they will help with travel enquiries, serve food and drink on board the train or provide you with tickets for your journey. However, there are people behind-the-scenes that we never see, who are planning and co-ordinating every aspect of your train journey. This means you might not have heard of half of the careers in rail! Find out more about the growing rail industry; view our Career Map to see the careers in rail.

Did you know?

  • It’s expected that the amount of people working in the rail industry will increase by 58% in the next 3 – 5 years, especially in engineering roles.
  • Train drivers earn an average of £44,503 a year. That’s over £10,000 more than the national average of £32,708
  • 49% of rail employers said that they would employ an apprentice in the future

A career as a train driver

A train driver is responsible for driving trains on the railways and it’s a highly skilled job with great earning potential! A train driver earns an average of £44,503 a year in comparison with the national average of £32,708.

How do I become a train driver?

To become a train driver you need to be employed by a train operating company (TOC). Some well-known train operating companies are Virgin Trains, Arriva and First, who all have train driver jobs nationwide. If you aren’t a qualified train driver, you’ll need to apply for trainee train driver jobs that offer full training while receiving a trainee salary. Depending on the train operating company, the training will last 9-12 months and when it’s completed the driver will earn a qualified salary. Train operating companies are in charge of their own recruitment and training, so they do not use recruitment agencies to find drivers. Therefore, the best way look for trainee or qualified train driver job is through their websites.

As the demand for train driver jobs is high, the competition can be tough, so if you’re interested in becoming in train driver in the future it will help to experience the rail industry in some way prior to becoming a train driver. Try applying for positions at the ticket office or gate-line first, as it shows you have an interest in the industry.

There are 23 train operating companies in the UK, the full list can be found below. Alternatively, you can check out our Employer Guide to find train operating companies and links to their career websites.