Train drivers do an important job, helping us travel around and get to where we need to be. Getting into this career will take a lot of dedication, but it can also be very rewarding.
'Being a train driver involves much more than simply driving a train'
Okay, we know that this job pretty much does what it says on the tin. But, you might be surprised to hear that being a train driver involves much more than just driving. In fact, as a train driver, you have to be incredibly switched on. This is because you will be responsible for things like ensuring the safety of your train and passengers, making sure your service runs on schedule and following signals.
Other typical duties of a train driver can include:
According to Glassdoor, the average UK salary for a train driver is £54,001. However, train drivers mostly work alone, and are also expected to work evenings and weekends. So, if you’re not a fan of flying solo, or don’t fancy giving up some of your weekends, then train driving might not be for you. On the plus side though, many operators offer train drivers heavily discounted (and sometimes even free) travel to their train drivers. Not a bad perk, if you ask us!
Technically, you don’t need any formal qualifications to become a train driver (although having good GCSEs and A-levels is definitely a plus). That being said, this doesn’t mean it’s an easy career to get into. In fact, many train drivers actually work their way up from different roles, such as conductors or passenger assistants.
Here are a few things you should know about the application process:
If you want to gain a nationally recognised qualification while you train, there is actually a train driver apprenticeship. This apprenticeship will typically take between 12-18 months to complete. To be eligible, you will need to be at least 18 years old, and have GCSEs grades 9 to 4 (A* to C), or equivalent, in English and maths. If you are interested in doing a train driver apprenticeship, it is worth checking different train operators’ websites to see if this is something that they offer.
Train drivers need quite a varied skill set, that can include things like:
Once you are qualified, some of the roles you could move into include: Driving different types of trains, such as engineering trains or freight trains, becoming an instructor to train new drivers, or moving into a management or operations role.
Want to find out more about similar careers? Check out our transport and logistics career zone to find out more about other jobs in this industry that you could do.