IRSE - Institution of Railway Signal Engineers > Licensing > How to apply for an IRSE licence
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  1. Licensing
  2. Membership
  3. Qualifications & Careers
  4. Publications & Resources
  5. Get Involved
  6. News

How to apply for an IRSE licence

The IRSE Licensing Scheme provides a recognised means of assessing the competence of railway signalling and telecommunications personnel, leading to the licensing of such personnel to undertake their work.

To obtain a licence, you must undergo assessments to check that you have the relevant skills and knowledge, and that you are competent and safe to carry out licensable work.

Preparing for assessment

Choose a licence category that fits the work you have been doing or are being trained to do.

Read through the competence assessment checklist (CAC) to see which criteria you can already show that you meet, and which you may need additional training or experience to meet.

Prepare your logbook: This will contain evidence of your work experience, training, mentoring and qualifications and will be used during your assessments. If you don’t have a logbook yet you can order a logbook folder from IRSE. If you haven’t had a logbook before, you may find most of the evidence you need is included on your CV or in your workplace personnel record. Speak to your manager or HR department if you’re not sure where to get this.

Find an assessing agency.: If your employer is an approved IRSE assessing agency, they will probably do your assessments for you. If not, you will need to choose an assessing agency that covers the licence category you wish to apply for from our list of approved assessing agencies. The assessing agency may charge for their services and will tell you how much your assessment will cost before you start.

The assessment process

On the CAC, complete the personal statement on each page showing how you meet the criteria. You should:

  • Give examples of work you have done. Explain when and where the work took place, e.g. “In June 2017 I was repairing a junction box at Reading”. 
  • Write about practice not theory – what you did, not what you would do. For example “Following the wiring diagram, I securely attached the wires using a crimping tool”. 
  • Include evidence to support your statement – for example photographs of work you’ve done, work plans you’ve written, or designs you’ve produced. ;
  • If you have questions about the criteria, the technical mentor at your assessing agency will be able to help. 

Your assessing agency will arrange a workplace assessment. An assessor will come and watch you carrying out licensable work, either in your normal place of work or in a simulation or training school. They will ask you questions about what you are doing, and what you might do in different situations, for example: “What other types of wiring terminations might you use on this type of cable?”  They will write up their assessment against each criteria on the CAC, and complete an overall statement. 

Your assessing agency will arrange a competence assessment. An assessor will meet with you to discuss all the evidence gathered in your logbook and from the workplace assessment.

They will ask questions about:

  • the evidence (for example: “Tell me more about your responsibilities on this job.”)
  • >your understanding of your work
  • the underpinning knowledge

They will write up their assessment against each criteria on the CAC, and complete an overall statement.

Submitting your application

Complete the application form and send it to IRSE Licensing together with the completed CAC, the relevant logbook pages, and any additional supporting evidence. You will find a list of what’s required on the application form, and your assessing agency will help you put this together.

Your application will be checked and logged – IRSE will let the assessing agency know if there are any problems like missing documents. One of IRSE’s authorisers will review the application and make a decision on whether to award the licence. If successful, your licence card will be sent to you via your assessing agency. This whole process usually takes 14 working days from the application being received by IRSE, so please be patient. If you have any concerns about the length of time your licence is being processed, please contact your assessing agent first.

What happens next?

Congratulations, you’re now an IRSE licence holder! Your licence is valid for ten years from the date shown on the card. However, you must have a surveillance assessment by a competence assessor after five years, to make sure that you have been keeping your skills and knowledge up to date. If you don’t do this your licence will lapse and you may not be able to do licensable work until you have been assessed again.

IRSE can revoke (take away) your licence if a complaint is made against you that is serious enough to suggest that:

  • you are not competent in your work
  • you have breached the Obligations of Licence Holders
  • you have deliberately done something wrong.

You can find out more about this in our complaints procedure.

How can I get help?

During the assessment process, you can get help from your employer or your assessing agency.

The IRSE Licensing website has information about the scheme, the obligations of licence holders, and the assessment process. If you have questions about the licensing scheme, or want to check your application’s progress once it’s been submitted, you can contact IRSE Licensing by emailing or calling the IRSE Licensing team on +44 (0)20 7808 1191.