A Guide to Becoming an Oil and Gas Engineer

Contracting in the oil and gas sector opens up a world of opportunities, Crude Oil for example, is found in some of the warmest climates and most exotic places in the world. Just imagine, that as a contractor you choose when and where you work, so one month you could be working in Dubai, in the sweltering heat, and on the other hand, much closer to home, the UK has its own wealth of oil in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland. There is a wealth of projects for you to get involved in.

Demand for Oil is so high that there is a struggle to reach demand. According to the U.S Energy Information, 73million barrels of oil are produced worldwide each day, expected to rise to 95 million per day by 2015. 

The price per barrel of Crude Oil is currently around $100 per barrel (February 2011), predictions are that by 2020 it will rise to $350 per barrel! 

As a contractor this is excellent news as not only are your skills in high demand, you can choose from a wide range of projects and increased daily rates to compensate for an increased workload. So what else do you need to know about this sector, well... 

How do I Become an Oil and Gas Engineer?

A degree in the relevant subjects is essential, any physical, mathematical or applied sciences, as well as engineering. Postgraduate study is also a benefit if looking to contract in a large international company. It’s preferable that contractors have a few years experience as a permanent employee, as often you will be working on your own and other employees will not be able to aid in training you, it also builds up your skills in working in a busy environment whilst also enriching your CV in the process to attract potential clients.  

What are employers looking for?

Employers will be interested most importantly in your experience and what you can offer them. This means your CV needs to look as appealing as possible. For further advice please visit our page on, CV tips and Writing your CV. It is important to show an interest in protecting natural resources and the environment while meeting the worlds demand for oil and gas.

The following will help you stand out from the crowd:

  • Extracurricular activities – examples of any team work achievements.
  • Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups (but nothing that might deter potential clients).
  • Keep track of current issues in the oil and gas sector - Which you can discuss further in interviews.
  • Any fitness activities your may participate in – to emphasize your fit and healthy as you could be running around oil rigs all-day!
  • Proof of a Vantage Card to travel offshore – Any offshore contractor position will require one!
  • Any relevant safety training qualifications.

How do I find work?

Recruitment sites are the most obvious ways of finding a contract. Depending on your range of skills, they can look for a more local contract in order to get you more experience, look into niche specific work or larger nationwide agencies such as:

Another avenue of finding a contract is going directly to a company, often they have a careers section with a contact telephone and email address for you to send through your CV and a cover letter. Companies you could apply to are:

  • Wood Group
  • Hydrasun
  • Subsea7
  • Shell
  • BP
  • Chevron Texaco
  • Technip
  • Wornald Tyco
  • Talisman
  • Philips
  • Exxon Mobil

If you are finding it difficult to find a point of contact, consider using LinkedIn. LinkedIn is not the most obvious source when searching for a new contract, and it is very rare that you will actually find work using LinkedIn, however it is a good way to build up your network within the Oil and Gas sector and a way to make people aware of when you are looking for a new contract. For more information visit LinkedIn for Contractors

How much can I earn as an Oil and Gas Engineer?

The average experienced oil and gas engineer earns £1,000 per day. Daily rates vary from £200 to £2,000 per day for very special Oil and Gas Consultants. This covers such a broad range of careers such as drilling work, seismic exploration, cementing to engineering consultation. 

Daily rates are affected by levels of risk and your range of skills including both practical and managerial skills. As demand for oil and gas cannot be met, consultants can benefits from negotiating higher daily rates to compensate for their extra work load.

Why Oil and Gas and why contracting?  

  • Higher rates of pay - This is only fair as unlike permanent employees, you do not get holiday or sick pay, giving you a greater chance to negotiate a higher rate of pay.
  • Prospects - There is an endless supply of contracts, as demand for oil and gas is struggling to be met.
  • Experience - The more contracts you take on the greater your practical and managerial skills. Giving you a wider choice of projects and the ability to charge higher daily rates.
  • Freedom - You can choose which contracts you take on and the length of time your contract is.
  • ‘Bonhomie’ among the colleagues – If you take a contract on an oil rig, you tend to see the same faces every day and they soon become your extended family. You can bank on them for all your needs.
  • Lower Taxes - Any accountant will tell you that trading through your own Limited Company is the most tax efficient way possible. This only to be expected after all as a contractor you do not get sick pay, holiday pay, and have to manage your own tax affairs. However any good accountant will be able to remove most of the burden and you shouldn’t need to allow more than 15 – 20 minutes a month for Ltd company administration.

For more information on contracting as a Oil and Gas Engineer, visit the following pages:

If you still have questions about contracting then please contact our New business team on 01442 275789 or email newbusiness@sjdaccountancy.com.