Oil and Gas Jobs and Careers

Oil and gas from the North Sea currently account for around 30,000 jobs in around 200 offshore sites and 300,000 onshore jobs in the UK.

This is a complex industry that involves advanced technology for extraction and production processes, with all the associated equipment and an infrastructure rendered more complicated for its offshore dimensions.

Oil and Gas Jobs Sites.

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The Industry

This industry provides both energy and essential chemicals for many areas of life in the UK. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous careers available in this industry to people at all levels of education and training.

Much of the sophistication of this industry stems from its offshore operations. Offshore installations are concerned with the extraction of oil and gas located thousands of feet beneath the sea bed. Functions include drilling, injection water or gas into the reservoir, processing the extracted fuels and sending it ashore.

Onshore Installations

Large installations on land are often close to the coast, as they receive oil and gas from offshore sites via tankers (oil) or pipeline (oil and gas). Once the fuel arrives on land, it undergoes an initial preparation at the installation before being transported onwards to a refinery. Natural gas is prepared so it can be piped into the National Grid.

Smaller installations further inland may be concerned with single functions, such as drilling or gas compression. Some, such as mobile drilling rigs, are mobile and can be relocated.

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Offshore Installations

'Oil rigs' are certainly concerned with drilling the seabed to access reservoirs of oil and gas, but there is far more to the processes involved than this. As oil erupts from the sea bed, it needs to be separated from the gas, water and sand that emerge with it, via extensive systems of pipes, gauges and valves. Once 'cleaned' into crude oil form, it's piped or shipped ashore.

The gas is compressed and cooled, before being piped ashore or used for fuel on the platform - offshore installations don't have an electricity supply so must generate their own power. In order to support these operations and the manpower involved in them, the offshore installations are often like small townships.

Oil and Gas Employers

Types of Oil and Gas Careers

What sorts of jobs?

Employment in this industry falls into one of the following sectors.

Scientific and Engineering Roles

Getting Started

Engineering: the most direct route into the industry is to take an engineering degree, either with a relevant specialism or with a Masters degree in petroleum engineering afterwards. A Masters in petroleum engineering is also a good way to change career if you're already a mechanical engineer, chemical engineer, civil engineer or electrical engineer.

For young people in the UK, Modern Apprenticeships in the industry are available. Leading mainly to technician roles, the initial training takes place in further education colleges over a 2-year period. This is followed by another 2-years training involving direct on-the-job experience on an operational site. This leads to a Modern Apprenticeship certificate - NVQ/SVQ Level 2, National Certificate, Higher National Certificate or NVQ/SVQ Level 3 - with employment in the industry highly likely.

Given the vast diversity of skilled positions in this industry, it is advisable to draw up a list of the potential careers that interest you, along with the skills requirements for each. Explore the numerous industry websites for more information, while identifying the major employers and recruiters.

Even if employers aren't recruiting at this moment, it's worth contacting the HR department to find out more. Which positions or areas are they focusing on? Do they have training schemes that might be of interest to you? Do they offer placements? If you are still studying, then making these contacts early on can only be to your advantage.


The baby boomer generation that currently holds the majority of positions in the industry will be retiring off in the next decade, meaning the industry is keen to both foster and recruit new skilled individuals.

For those who are qualified in a relevant discipline and who are unafraid of hard work in a team, it's possible to earn high salaries. What's more, it's possible to gain positions in many areas of the world, including the Middle East, the US and Canada. Work may be seasonal, requiring two months on and a month off, or even fly-in-fly-out working arrangements in remote locations.

Oil and Gas Jobs Sites

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