Qualifications Needed To Become A Train Driver: Top Tips

Qualifications Needed To Become A Train Driver

Listen to the following video podcast by Richard McMunn where he gives you his top 5 insider tips for passing the train driver selection process (the audio transcription and useful links are below the video, contained within the text):


Introduction: Qualifications Needed To Become A Train Driver

Hello there, everybody!

My name is Richard McMunn from How2Become.com. In this audio blog post I am going to answer a very common question that gets asked all of the time by trainee train driver applicants.

The question is: “Do I need any formal qualifications to become a train driver?”

Now, the great news is you do not need to have any formal qualifications to be a train driver. However, there are a number of other things that you will need. There are five things in particular and I am going to cover them in this audio blog post.

If you have any questions relating to the trainee train driver selection process, or about the role of the train driver when you are applying, please put your questions in the comments section at the bottom of this web page. If you also need any further advice about the qualifications needed to become a train driver, please just ask me!

So, like I say there are no formal qualification requirements to become a train driver, so let’s have a look at the five things that you’re going to need in order to pass.


First and foremost, you will have to meet the minimum eligibility requirements in respect of age.

Most train operating companies require you to be a minimum age of 21 before you can apply. Some people say to me: “Richard, I’m 40 or even 50 years old, can I still apply?” And the answer is: ABSOLUTELY YES!

If you think about it, if you’re in your 30s, 40s, or even 50s, the chances are you will have vast amounts of experience to put into this role. And therefore, I am not saying it’s going to be easier for you to pass the selection process, but as you’ll see as we get through this blog page, evidence and previous work experience is absolutely vital.

What you have to bear in mind if you are of a certain age is that there is a set retirement age that each train operating company will have.

Let’s assume the retirement age is 60. If you’re 55 and applying to become a train driver, they’re not going to get many years out of you. So, you have to bear that in mind.

I always say to people, just apply and see what happens. Now there are a lot of people applying for every train driver position that gets advertised. So, when a train operating company puts out a job advert there will be literally a few hundred applicants for every single position that is advertised.

Now even though it’s tough to become a train driver, if you follow the information on this page and also in particular the one that I’m going to give you at number five, then your chances of success when applying to become a train driver will dramatically increase.

So, the first one is the age requirements.


The second tip in what qualifications are needed to become a train driver, is that you have to have the relevant qualities. The list is quite comprehensive, and it includes:

  • Being safety conscious.
  • Operating in a highly safety-critical role.

If you have any kind of qualifications or experience in relation to safety critical roles, then the more the better. If you have any health and safety qualifications, fantastic. I have known some people who apply to become train drivers to go out there and get a health and safety qualification to improve their chances of success.

  • Learn large amounts of job relevant information.

When you pass the selection process, you will then go on an in-depth trainee train driver course which can last a couple of years, during which you have to pass a number of exams.

  • Work alone unsupervised and concentrate intently.

You also have to be able to work alone unsupervised for long periods of time and concentrate intently on one particular task.

  • Remain calm in emergency situations.
  • Follow rules and procedures.
  • Provide excellent customer service

Remember, train operating companies are providing a service and you have to be great at customer service if you are to become a train driver!

So, that’s just a few of the qualities that are required to become a train driver and you will be assessed against every one of those during the selection process.

Train driver careers


The third thing that you will need in regards to the qualifications needed to become a train driver, is a flexible approach to work.

Now, what I mean by that is that train drivers are required to work unsociable hours, at weekends in the evenings. Therefore, you need to be sure that you can work the hours required. You may also have to live within a certain distance of the train station where you’ll be operating.

Some train operating companies require you to live within 30 minutes of the train station or the train depot. So, you will need to check with the train operating company you are applying for.


Number four: you have to pass a series of tough train driver tests and these include:

  • Concentration type tests.
  • Ability types tests.
  • Learn and retain information tests.
  • Fast reaction tests.
  • Situational judgment test.

To practice the above tests, check out our fantastic guide on the Train Driver Tests! 


Now, the final thing that you will need is to provide evidence of where you meet each of the train driver assessable qualities.

And this includes, when you’re applying and completing the train driver application form and also both sets of interviews. So, you will get asked behavioural type questions such as:

“When have you worked as part of a team?”

“Can you give an example of when you reacted to an emergency situation?”

“Can you give an example of when you communicated a difficult message to a group of people?”

It’s no good saying: “Well, if I was in this situation this is what I would do!” You have to have been in these kinds of situations and that is the difference between the top 1 percent of applicants who want to become a train driver, and the rest who fail.

So, it’s really important that you provide evidence.

Now, how do you do that? Our comprehensive insider’s guide will help you to pass and navigate the tough train driver selection process. My advice is to get a copy of it! You can start learning literally within two minutes from now!

So, don’t forget take a look around the website and make sure you follow those five important bits for passing the train driver selection process. Thank you for reading. If you’re looking for a seriously in-depth study of the train driver process, why not check out our fantastic course? This insider’s course will cover everything you need in order to become a train driver! 

Online Trainee Train Driver Training Recordings - become a train driver

17 thoughts on “Qualifications Needed To Become A Train Driver: Top Tips

  1. Mohammed Luqman says:

    Hi, I am really keen on becoming a Train Driver, when a Trainee job is advertised I will apply, my question is how can I fully prepare And put myself in a good position & which courses can I do and qualifications I would need to gain.

  2. shadrack says:

    am shadrack from ghana , can a foreigner be recruited as a train driver in uk whiles he is in his native country without entry visa. or is it sponsored

  3. Hannah says:

    i would like to become a train driver however im not too sure on what qualifications i need like do i need to have a levels for engineering, or can i just get an apprenticeship.

    • Gemma Butler says:

      Hi Hannah, you do not need to have any formal qualifications to be a train driver.

      You will need to apply for trainee train driver roles and if your application is successful you will receive on-the-job training, typically this takes 18-24 months. Once your training is complete you will be a qualified train driver.

  4. Richard says:

    I have just seen as position advertised for a train driver, I wish to apply however I am 60 years old. What in honesty are you thoughts on the chances of me being accepted.

    • Gemma Butler says:

      Hi Richard, while there is no official upper age limit, the cut of tends to be around 50 years old. It is probably worth contacting the TOC you are wanting to apply to in order to find out their age criteria.

  5. David says:

    Hi, I would like to know if I can do a solo Independent train Driver course, rather than have to rely on using a particular train operating company? Rather like road haulage companies employ agency H.G.V. drivers!

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