Oil and gas jobs aren't all about spending months at a time on a rig. In fact, just 6% of roles are based offshore, and there's lots of variety as well as opportunities for travel
Exploring oil and gas fields, extracting natural resources, and refining them so that they are useable is one of the biggest industries in the world - as well as being among the most controversial due to its environmental impact.
Yet oil and gas remain essential for the manufacture of countless everyday products as well as for fuelling vehicles, heating buildings and producing electricity. What's more, there are many different career paths to choose from.
Oil and gas careers
You'll find some of the world's largest and most recognisable multinational companies in the oil and gas industry, such as BP, ExxonMobil and Shell, along with many smaller organisations.
In fact, according to the trade association Oil & Gas UK, the industry supports more than 300,000 jobs in the UK including those throughout the supply chain. Whether you want to work offshore on an oil rig or in a nine to five office job, there is plenty of choice.
From engineers and geologists to office-based roles in accounting and human resources (HR), employers require graduates with varying interests and from many different academic backgrounds.
You could, for example, be a chef supporting the workforce on an oil rig, a chemist undertaking research and development, an environmental adviser ensuring that standards are met, or a subsea engineer designing and installing underwater equipment.
For more information on some of the diverse roles that can be found in the oil and gas industry, see the following job profiles:
- Drilling engineer
- Energy engineer
- Engineering geologist
- Hydrographic surveyor
- Mining engineer
- Petroleum engineer
- Wellsite geologist
You can also search for current vacancies on specialist recruitment websites including:
In addition, MyOilandGasCareer.com provides a directory of oil and gas company careers websites, meaning you can easily search for opportunities on individual employers' sites.
Skills and qualifications for oil and gas jobs
Once you've decided on a role, to enter the industry you may want to apply for a structured graduate scheme offered by one of the larger employers.
For example, Shell's graduate programme allows you to choose technical, commercial business or corporate functions pathways. Similarly, the career areas for graduates at BP are business, engineering, science, and supply and trading.
You'll need to have, or be expecting, a good degree from a recognised university to gain entry to a scheme. Depending on which specialism you choose, there may be specific requirements in terms of your degree subject - particularly for engineering and science programmes.
Some graduate schemes, such as Shell's technical pathways, demand a postgraduate qualification. Search for postgraduate courses in oil and gas.
Alternatively, if it's an apprenticeship you're looking for rather than university, consider the Oil and Gas Technical Apprentice Programme (OGTAP), during which you'll split your time between college and a sponsoring company while earning a salary.
To be eligible you'll need four GCSEs at Grade 6 or above in maths, English, double science (or one from physics, chemistry or an appropriate technology subject) and one other subject. You need to be at least 16 years old by May of the year you're applying for. Learn more about apprenticeships.
The global nature of the industry means that language skills are highly valued by employers, especially for business-oriented jobs.
For offshore roles you'll need to go on an industry-standard health and safety course such as Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST).
Life in the oil industry
Although the popular image of oil and gas jobs is of engineers working on an oil rig, only 6% of roles are based offshore, according to MyOilandGasCareer.com.
Most are based onshore in so-called 'hubs' in which many industry employers gather, such as Aberdeen and London in the UK, where you're most likely to be office-based and work regular hours.
Figures published by trade association Oil & Gas UK show that nearly 60% of jobs are in England and about 40% in Scotland. But it's a global industry and the chances are you'll get to travel or even work abroad at some stage.
Meanwhile Oil & Gas UK says that 52,000 people travelled offshore in the UK in 2016, mostly in the North Sea, with 23,600 spending more than 100 days offshore per year.
If you do work in an offshore job you'll typically work intense 12-hour shifts for two or three weeks at a time, so it means spending significant periods away from home. You'll then have the same amount of time off work to compensate.
Discover more about what it's like to live and work offshore at MyOilandGasCareer.com.
Salaries in the oil and gas industry vary depending on the type of job you are doing, but it can be a rewarding career choice.
According to the NES Global Oil & Gas Outlook 2017, the average graduate salary for permanent staff in the industry is $38,000 (about £28,000) - with significantly higher pay if and when you progress to more senior levels.
In addition, the report reveals that almost 90% of employers expect staffing levels to increase or remain the same in 2018 as the industry recovers from the oil price crash in 2014 - making now a good time to launch your career in oil and gas.
Find out more
- Discover careers in engineering and manufacturing.
- Search for jobs in the energy and utilities sector.