With public transport high on the political agenda around the country, this is a great time to build your skills in rail transport

Careers information

What does it involve?

People involved in the New Zealand rail industry pursue a wide range of careers. You can drive a locomotive for a freight or passenger service, or take on one of the essential support roles involved in maintaining the tracks, signals and other structures that keep our rail network running smoothly.

What kind of jobs could I do?

The rail industry offers many career options. Jobs include:

How could I get into the industry?

Apply for jobs directly with Transdev (who operate Auckland’s passenger network) or KiwiRail.

How much could I earn?

Once you’ve completed your Level 4 training, you can expect to earn between $35,000 and $50,000 per year to start with. Pay increases come as you gain more experience and seniority.

Industry facts

  • 4,128 km of rail track across New Zealand
  • 21m passenger rail journeys around New Zealand each year
  • 16m tonnes of freight moved by rail each year
  • Over 30% of freight carried by rail
  • Over 4,500 Kiwis employed in the industry

How we support your industry

We partner with industry associations like Rail and Maritime Transport Union and members of your industry to build skilled employees. This support includes ensuring your industry’s qualifications continue to meet needs, supporting industry events like conferences and celebrating your learners’ success.

National qualifications

These qualifications are for people looking to move into or already employed in the rail transport industry, both passenger and freight. The skills and training needed depend on the area you want to specialise in.

This qualification is designed for people starting a career in rail passenger operations. It recognises competency in a range of basic skills that everyone in a customer service role in the rail transport industry needs.

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.

This qualification is designed for people starting a career in rail infrastructure services including tracks, structures, signals and communications.

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.

This qualification builds a broad range of competencies needed to maintain rail tracks, structures and signals.

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.

This qualification recognises the skills and knowledge needed to operate as a Locomotive Engineer on freight and passenger trains. These qualifications give a base of core skills and knowledge, including workplace health and safety, emergency response, and communication.

The Level 3 strand is for locomotive engineers of a multiple unit/railcar passenger services train. The Level 4 strands are for locomotive engineers operating on the national rail network in either the freight or passenger sectors.

Click here for the NZQA qualification overview.

How much could I earn?

Icn Money

Newly Qualified

$33k - $65k

Does this sound like you?

Study areas

• Maths or Accounting or Economics

• Computing / ICT / Information Management


• Reasonable strength and fitness

• Good organisation skills

• Good work habits/time management

• Good at problem solving / creative

Helpful experience

• Customer service or helping people

• Working with machinery

• Interest or experience with trains

Preferred work environments

• Outside (in vehicles)

• Different places from
time to time