Offshore engineer
Technical Specialists

Offshore engineers find environmentally safe and economical ways to extract oil and gas from natural reservoirs beneath the seabed. They design offshore installations and drilling equipment, manage drilling operations and maximise production.

They are also known as oil engineers.

Work Activities

Offshore engineers research, design, construct, operate and close down offshore rigs. They try to find ways to make drilling techniques quicker, more accurate and more cost effective.

There are several different types of offshore engineer:

  • Some offshore engineers design the offshore rigs using computer-aided design (CAD). They will design and ‘build' and installation on screen and then use virtual reality to explore a three-dimensional model. They have to understand the forces that affect the rig, such as wind, waves and strong currents.
  • Off shore engineers work on ways to eliminate loss, manage waste and reduce the amount of energy the process uses. They have to come up with creative practical economical and safe solutions to any problems that may arise such as equipment failure
  • Drilling engineers draw up plans for the drilling operation. They specify the drilling programme, plan the wells, supervise the drilling crew and are responsible for safety management and protecting the environment.
  • Reservoir engineers are responsible for maximising oil or gas production and making sure production is economical.
  • Production engineers monitor the wells and recommend ways to increase the efficiency of the production.

Personal Qualities and Skills

Key skills for offshore engineers

As an offshore engineer you need:

  • Practical or technical skills
  • Patience and a logical approach to your work
  • An interest in Maths and Physics
  • Good communication and interpersonal skills and ability to work in teams
  • Problem solving skills
  • Management/leadership skills
  • General IT skills
  • Resilience

Pay And Opportunities

Typical employers of offshore engineers

  • Oil and gas producing companies around the world and companies that provide support to these organisations
  • Design consultancies and project management firms
  • Job vacancies are advertised in local/national newspapers, trade industry publications and specialist engineering recruitment agencies


Qualifications and training required

There are routes into a career as an offshore engineer for both university graduates and school leavers.

You can get into civil, structural or geotechnical engineering through an apprenticeship, school leaver programme or an engineering degree (usually either a three-year BEng or a four-year MEng course). But the amount of responsibility you get in the workplace depends on your levels of education and experience.

To qualify as an offshore engineer you will need a relevant engineering degree, foundation degree or HND. Offshore engineers have backgrounds in most engineering sectors including chemical, mechanical, marine, fuel and energy. Graduates from non-engineering backgrounds such as maths, chemistry, physics, geology can also become offshore engineers and may be recruited as drilling or production engineers.

For entry to a relevant degree course the usual requirement is 3 A levels, normally to include Maths, and a Science or Technology subject, often Physics. GCSEs in your A level subjects at grade C or above are also required along with a good mix of other subjects, including English, Maths and a science subject.

Other qualifications such as BTEC level 3 National or the International Baccalaureate Diploma are often accepted. Some universities accept the Welsh Baccalaureate as equivalent to one A level.

In Scotland, entry to a relevant engineering degree is normally with 4/5 Highers (A-C) to include Maths and either Physics or Engineering Science, plus a mix of other subjects at National 5, including English. Although the usual qualification for entry into this career is a degree, it may be possible to enter with an HND/HNC, or via a Modern Apprenticeship.

In all cases it's important to check individual university/college prospectuses carefully, as specific requirements may well differ.

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