With a Network Rail Engineering Apprenticeship, the sky's the limit

The big Q&A: Network Rail Engineering Apprenticeship graduate Emma Taylor is now an aerial survey specialist who takes photos from a helicopter and helps the police fight crime!

Since launching in 2005, more than 2,000 people have been on the Network Rail Engineering Apprenticeship Scheme. In September 2015, the next 200 places will be filled by people aged 17 and over. Emma Taylor is a 2009 graduate of the scheme who now works as a national aerial survey specialist.

Working with photography

She says: “My role involves working with all the advanced camera systems on our surveillance helicopter. We use them to carry out aerial surveys of our infrastructure.

“It’s a brilliant job! We cover up to 200 miles a day, inspecting equipment. Doing this saves money and also improves equipment safety.

“The equipment we use is high-tech, like the high definition thermal imaging camera which helps us find any ‘hot spots’ on the equipment and also tells us exactly what the camera turret is looking at. We can then get the ground teams any info they need about faulty equipment quickly and in real time.

“As well as surveying infrastructure, we also work closely with the British Transport Police by carrying out crime prevention patrols in vulnerable areas.”

Flying in a helicopter

“I’ve always been interested in both engineering and aviation. Having the opportunity to combine my two main interests has been very rewarding.

“The Network Rail Advanced Apprenticeship Programme suited me well and I was able to learn a vast amount of knowledge on a varied syllabus, putting me in a good position to pursue an engineering career in Network Rail.

“It was a really well constructed course in terms of learning. Perhaps just as importantly, it also taught us a lot about life skills and independence.”

The Network Rail Engineering Apprenticeship scheme:

EMMA SAYS: “As my current role shows, there are so many different opportunities within the company and plenty of roles that suit all temperaments and appetites.”

The three-year Network Rail course begins with nine months at the Royal Navy’s HMS Sultan in Hampshire. It’s Europe’s largest engineering training facility!

During their second and third years, apprentices will get experience working on the rail network’s front line, gaining skills as they train to become maintenance technicians (just like Emma did). Their on-the-job training is completed by extra off-railway learning at the training centres.

Emma says: “By the time you’ve completed the programme and started the role full-time, you are fully prepared for the challenges ahead.”

More about Network Rail careers

At Network Rail we’re building the railway of the future, and we’ll be at the heart of a thriving, low carbon economy where people, places and businesses are better connected than ever before. In the last five years we’ve recruited and developed over 1,000 apprentices and 500 graduates.

Whichever career path you choose at Network Rail, you can be assured of a fascinating, surprising, epic career journey.

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