National Careers Week: Become an Energy Engineer

In honour of National Careers Week 2017, we’re profiling some of the latest jobs from Careers 2017.

Next in the list of roles is Energy Engineer – download a PDF of this job profile here:

Energy Engineer job profile

Qualifications and courses

This career is open to graduates of a relevant accredited engineering degree, such as environmental, petroleum, electrical, mechanical or chemical engineering as well as other science-related subjects such as chemistry, physics or earth science. Due to an increase in profile and application of renewable and sustainable energy solutions, a number of specialist degrees have become increasingly available, such as energy engineering, sustainable energy and climate science.

Entry requirements for engineering or related degrees are a minimum of 2 A levels/3 H grades and 5 GCSEs/ National 5s (A*–C/A–C) including English, Maths and a science. Alternative entry qualifications may include relevant BTEC Diplomas or Access courses.

For those with non-accredited degrees, you will need to complete a postgraduate conversion course in renewable energy engineering, sustainable energy systems or energy futures, in order to upgrade your qualifications. A postgraduate course in engineering may be beneficial to all candidates however, as this will enhance your career prospects and support your pathway to gaining chartered status.

Graduate training programmes are available to those post-university. Most entrants for schemes within the larger oil companies will have gained a 2.1 in their degree subject, but postgraduate qualifications are generally preferred. Experience is also valued by employers so work placements may be worthwhile in a somewhat competitive jobs market.

Becoming a member of relevant organisations will also ensure you remain up to date with the latest developments in the industry, allow you to make essential contacts and inform you of new training courses. To improve your prospects further, you could work towards gaining chartered status via the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

What the work involves

You will be involved with the extraction of oil and gas and the production of energy from renewable or sustainable sources, such as wind power, solar power or biofuels.

You will have to calculate how much oil or gas a well will produce and decide how to extract as much as possible and also oversee the drilling operations on an offshore rig.

You could also have to research new ways of generating energy, whilst developing ways of improving existing processes.

Type of person suited to this work

  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills are needed for teamwork and to build strong relationships with other professionals and clients.
  • You should have a high level of numeracy and good IT skills, as well as scientific understanding of related fields such as geology and chemistry.
  • You will need to have excellent planning, organisational and problem-solving skills to successfully run a project.

Working conditions

  • If you become involved with power plant or drilling operations, you could work on a 7-day shift system, which would include nights and weekends, whereas working in design, research
    and development will mean working more standard office hours.
  • The work is both mentally and physically demanding and conditions on-site are often noisy, wet, cold and inhospitable.
  • Some jobs may involve international travel and long stays away from home.

Future prospects

The renewable energy industry is rapidly expanding, due to an increased interest in environmental issues, the rise in demand for oil and gas and the pressure on businesses to reduce their
carbon footprint.

Renewable and sustainable energy has become a government priority and so job prospects for energy engineers are very good with growth areas including corporate social responsibility (CSR), teaching roles and positions in research and development.

You could be employed in the oil and gas industry, energy production companies or you could move into the education field by teaching or conducting university research.

With experience, you could move into planning, policy development, or freelance consultancy.

Advantages/disadvantages

  • Oil drilling in particular operates in some of the most dangerous and hostile areas of the world, so your safety could be threatened on a daily basis.
  • It will be rewarding to know that you have helped to minimise environmental damage.
  • You will have to be prepared to spend some time away from home.

Money guide

  • Salaries for graduates typically range from £20,000 to £30,000, with the larger earnings coming from the big oil companies.
  • Those with experience or in senior management roles could earn between £35,000 and £80,000.

Further information


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