Energy and utilities jobs

Author
Dan Mason, Editorial manager
Posted
December, 2018

Many energy and utilities jobs are perfect for engineers or those with scientific qualifications, but graduates from all disciplines can find roles with large organisations in the sector

Drilling engineer

You might work on land or offshore as you plan and supervise the drilling of oil and gas wells. Involved throughout the process, from initial well design to testing, completion and abandonment, you'll work closely with geologists and geoscientists to monitor progress, safety, and environmental protection.

Day-to-day tasks are varied and include keeping track of costs to evaluate the commercial viability of the project, ensuring wells are properly maintained, administering drilling contracts, and taking steps to return a site to its natural state if drilling is not pursued.

At a large oil company you'll start by managing a single well, but you can quickly be handed responsibility for significant budgets. With seniority, you'll oversee multiple wells before potentially moving into management or independent consultancy. Get an insight into being a drilling engineer.

Energy engineer

Whether you're working with fossil fuels or renewable energy sources, you'll design and test machinery and improve existing processes. You could be tasked with reducing emissions, minimising environmental damage, or researching new ways to generate energy.

Responsibilities might encompass carrying out site inspections and surveys, designing and selecting equipment, adapting lab experiments to large-scale industrial processes, managing costs and revenues, and keeping up to date with relevant legislation and environmental standards.

As your career progresses, you'll have the chance to move into a senior engineering or managerial role. Alternative routes include environmental consultancy, self-employment or lecturing on energy engineering in higher education. Read the energy engineer job profile to learn more.

Energy manager

Based within a single organisation or facility, you'll be responsible for planning, regulating and monitoring energy use, as well as introducing new policies and changes where they will improve efficiency. Waste management and sustainable development will also come under your remit.

To achieve this you'll develop, coordinate and implement energy consumption strategies, promote sustainability and the use of renewable resources, negotiate contracts with suppliers, keep accurate records, and carry out inspections.

If you become a member of the Energy Institute, it may be possible to work towards gaining chartered status, which will improve your chances of promotion, salary increase, or an opportunity at a larger organisation. Discover more about what it takes to become an energy manager.

Engineering geologist

Your job will to be analyse natural conditions, such as soil, rock and groundwater, in order to identify and deal with the ways these geological factors might affect engineering works. This could be in preparation for a major construction project, for example, where you'll be expected to advise on suitable materials to use.

You'll be tasked with collating data and producing reports, using specialised computer software to assist with the design of built structures, supervising site and ground investigations, advising on potential problems, and planning field investigations.

The two main routes for career progression are to continue in a technical role with the aim of becoming a senior engineering geologist, or to move into engineering management. Explore the role of engineering geologist.

Environmental consultant

Your advice and assessments will help clients to minimise or eliminate environmental damage, or ensure they comply with relevant regulations. Typically employed by a consultancy firm, you could be a generalist or specialise in areas such as waste management, flood risk, or renewable energy.

Carrying out desk-based research as well as field surveys, you'll put together reports to share your findings and provide advice on the best course of action based on the results. In addition, you must maintain your awareness of how legislation affects projects.

As you gain experience, you may be asked to take on the management of small projects, before progressing to the role of senior consultant. This gives you responsibility for staff management, contracts and allocation of resources. Get more detail on a career as an environmental consultant.

Geochemist

You'll study chemical elements in rocks and minerals, with your research informing oil exploration, toxic waste clean-up, or improving water quality. Jobs can be found with oil and gas companies, environmental consultancies and research organisations.

You'll spend time analysing the age, nature and components of rocks, minerals, soil and other samples, conducting tests using specialist equipment, generating computer models, writing technical reports and, potentially, giving presentations or lectures.

Once you've gained some experience you may decide to specialise, for example in oil and gas, or mining. As you become more senior, you could move into consultancy-based project work, either for a company or as a freelancer. Learn more about what a geochemist does.

Geophysicist

You'll study the physical aspects of the earth using a range of methods including gravity, magnetic, electrical and seismic. Creating a picture of what lies beneath the earth's surface is vital in the oil and gas industry.

Tasks include deciding on suitable seismic measurement and data processing techniques, observing recording equipment, interpreting and mapping 2D and 3D seismic data, measuring reservoir volumes, and thinking quickly and independently to solve problems in remote locations.

Following you probationary period and once you've gained some experience, you can progress to become a senior geophysicist, then team leader and finally into senior management. Masters or PhD-level study will help your career development. Explore the role of a geophysicist.

Geoscientist

This encompasses a variety of roles that involve working on the earth's system, including geophysicist, geologist, geochemist, hydrogeologist and sedimentologist. You'll use data to develop models of the subsurface of the earth for a variety of purposes.

Tasks include collecting data in the field, using sophisticated software to analyse the subsurface geology, assessing the potential quality of mineral and hydrocarbon resources, collaborating with drilling engineers, and planning the location and trajectory of new wells.

One career path is to work towards a senior role in your chosen area, then become a team leader and manager. Alternatively, you can move into a specialist technical role with greater responsibility, or into consultancy. View the geoscientist job profile.

Hydrogeologist

Your job is to study the distribution, flow and quality of water underground. You'll need to interpret technical data and information from maps and historical documents to build conceptual models of groundwater flow and quality.

The role requires knowledge of fundamental geology, and involves undertaking field work and site visits, designing and commissioning boreholes, analysing collected information to assess the impact potential activities may have on water quality, and ensuring compliance with regulations.

Career progression will benefit from gaining chartered status with the Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) or the Geological Society. Discover more about how to become a hydrogeologist.

Hydrographic surveyor

Also known as hydrographers, hydrographic surveyors spend time aboard survey ships and drilling platforms to measure and map underwater surfaces. This is essential when planning navigation charts, dredging, locating offshore resources, positioning wind farms and subsea cables, and monitoring erosion.

You'll need to use technical software and equipment to gather data, operate autonomous underwater vehicles, produce reports, manage onshore and offshore projects, respond to technical queries from colleagues, and deal with clients to provide survey results.

Having started as a trainee surveyor, engineer or geophysicist, you can progress to senior surveyor and then principal surveyor. Alternatively, you can move into specialist technical support and development. Get more detail on being a hydrographic surveyor.

Hydrologist

The main duties of a hydrologist are to monitor, manage and protect water resources in commercial, environmental and academic settings - ensuring that water is supplied in the most cost-effective way.

You'll use computer modelling packages to assess the best way of managing water in an area, study the impact of changing land use on water flows, plan responses to weather conditions such as drought or flooding, and investigate factors affecting acidity or nitrate levels.

The easiest way to develop your career in the first two to five years is to progress within an organisation's internal structure. There may be opportunities to work internationally. Find out more about being a hydrologist.

Minerals surveyor

Your role is to determine the commercial potential of mining or quarrying sites, by assessing risks, predicting environmental impacts and mapping mineral deposits. You'll also help to negotiate legal contracts and establish the rights to work a mine.

Potential tasks include charting surface areas using GPS and building 3D models using specialist software, researching land and tax records to establish ownership, taking samples and recording results, and providing valuations of mineral deposits.

Gaining chartered status and undertaking continuing professional development (CPD) is the key to gaining more senior posts. It is advisable to develop experience before starting to specialise. Explore the job of a minerals surveyor in more detail.

Mining engineer

You'll need to have an understanding of the impact mining operations have on their surrounding environment, in order to assess the viability of the project and help to plan the mine's structure, oversee production, and help with final closure.

Responsibilities include undertaking feasibility studies, modelling or designing potential mine sites, monitoring construction projects, ensuring the safety of the site and equipment, and managing monthly budgets.

Traditionally, you'll progress from junior mining engineer to mine planning engineer, senior mining engineer, mine supervisor and finally resident manager. Gaining CEng status through the Engineering Council can help with progression. View the mining engineer job profile.

Mudlogger

During the extraction of oil and gas, mudloggers monitor and record drilling activity to provide information about the well's status. This influences decisions about the efficiency and placement of well sites.

You'll collect, process, log and analyse geological samples, interpret data and feed it back to the drilling team, predict potentially dangerous situations, take on a health and safety role, and operate a real-time computer-based acquisition system that records all aspects of rig activity.

A job as a mudlogger is seen as an entry point into the oil industry, from which you can gain knowledge and experience to move into other roles. You could become a senior mudlogger, or, after two to three years, progress into the more senior job of data engineer or crew chief. Explore the mudlogger job profile.

Petroleum engineer

You'll be involved in nearly all stages of oil and gas field evaluation, development and production - finding the most efficient way to drill for hydrocarbons, using new tools and techniques, and reducing the impact on the environment.

Depending on your specific role, tasks may include selecting suitable equipment for the well, designing systems to help the well flow, managing problems of fluid behaviour, understanding and managing the interactions of a set of wells, and keeping clients informed of progress.

Following training, graduates can progress from early-career technical roles to senior technical positions, commercial roles, or leadership and management appointments. Get more detail on the job of a petroleum engineer.

Quarry manager

You'll ensure that quarries, pits and opencast sites operate successfully, including on-site and in the office. You'll manage staff, coordinate production, and monitor site systems.

Day-to-day this involves making use of excellent interpersonal and management skills, checking production levels are maintained safely, balancing sales and output, liaising with sales and commercial teams, managing the quarry's budget, dealing with paperwork, and implementing relevant legislation.

You may need to move from one quarry to another to increase your level of responsibility and experience. Eventually you could progress into an area operations management role for a major (or even international) company. Find out more about being a quarry manager.

Water engineer

Usually coming from a civil engineering or environmental background, you'll specialise in water-based projects around the provision of clean water, disposal of sewage, and prevention of flood damage.

Roles include designing sewer improvement schemes and flood defence programmes, preparing tender documents, liaising with clients and governmental organisations, monitoring the progress of projects, and controlling budgets.

With experience, you'll take on project management, larger budgets and supervision of teams. You can then progress into management positions, and move between the public and private sectors. Read the water engineer job profile for more information.

Water quality scientist

Safeguarding water quality through scientific analysis, you'll work to maintain targets and standards set down in legislation, compare tests results, analyse shortfalls, and take action to fix any issues.

You'll do this by taking water samples, carrying out lab testing, assessing data, visiting sources of pollution and contamination, liaising with regulators and providing advice on changes or solution to problems.

To develop your career, one option is working towards chartered status with CIWEM. You could move into a water operations role, which gives you responsibility for managing a range of water facilities, or alternatively management of laboratories and staff. Find out more about being a water quality scientist.

Wellsite geologist

You'll use specialised tests, samples and data to develop knowledge of structures being drilled for oil and gas. As an experience geologist, it'll be your responsibility to decide when tests should be carried out and when drilling should start, proceed and stop, taking into account health and safety considerations.

Tasks include evaluating data before drilling starts, analysing formations during drilling, advising on hazards and optimisation, making decisions on the suspension or continuation of drilling, and keeping detailed records.

Wellsite geologist isn't an entry-level role - you'll probably need two to five years' experience as a mudlogger or measuring while drilling (MWD) engineer before taking up the position. Discover how to become a wellsite geologist.