Young professionals and experienced hands in the rail industry alike quickly become familiar with the necessary skill set needed to fulfill their job requirements. Perhaps the most important skill needed by rail professionals is a commitment to excellence, since every job on the railway requires hard work and constant attention. However, more basic skills are needed by railway professionals and should be understood by university students and others looking to break into the industry.
One of the most important skills in the rail industry is an appreciation of how far the industry has come from its origins. Engineers, drivers, and others on the railway who understand where the industry has come from can fully appreciate that they are on the cutting edge of transportation. As well, railway professionals need to appreciate the fact that customers chose the railway over automobiles, buses, and other forms of transportation.
With this appreciation in mind, the skilled railway professional has a number of other skills that help them on a daily basis. All railway workers need to have exceptional technical skills, with a range and specificity that are determined by their job. Engineers and maintenance workers need to understand the overall workings of a variety of engines, since they typically work on multiple trains at their depots. Drivers and other onboard staff need to understand the nuances of a trains interior, with the driver requiring an exceptional knowledge of train meters and controls.
Railway professionals also need to possess strong organizational skills and an attention to detail that cannot be deterred. Organizational skills are necessary for all railway workers because of the changing schedules, maintenance periods, and other time tables that need to be maintained by an efficient railway. Attention to detail is crucial from the perspectives of drivers and maintenance staff. While drivers are aided by computer-based signaling, they need to keep an eye on engine readings, track signals, and other meters while maintaining speed. Maintenance workers and engineers need to keep an eye out for worn parts and large-scale problems with the engine while it is in the depot.
The last skill needed by railway professionals is the ability to communicate with diverse workers at various stops along their route. Drivers need to be able to communicate clearly and without equivocation their status to signal towers and stations further down the track. Mechanics and engineers need to be able to speak to one another in order to efficiently maintain trains. In the end, good communications and a commitment to excellence will take rail professionals far in their careers.