Author: Simon Coton is NES Global Talent’s Managing Director. He joined the company in 1995 as a graduate and has since risen through the ranks, leading both the UK and Houston teams as part of his career progression.
Introduction: Looking for a long-term career in an expanding and exciting sector? The oil and gas business is the place to be right now and for the future. Whether you are an engineer, welder, field or office worker; the energy industry offers tremendous opportunities across the job spectrum.
This is an exciting time for those wanting to move into oil and gas. The industry is at a crossroads. Seasoned workers are gearing up to retire but new and challenging exploration projects are coming online in order to meet the ever growing global energy demand, which is predicted to increase by 43% by 2035 according to the International Energy Agency.
These two opposing forces are creating unprecedented gaps in talent and experience, causing the industry to enjoy a recruitment boom.
Don’t be daunted Regardless of your current job, your academic background or previous work history, there are many types of jobs available in oil and gas. In fact, 44% of respondents in our recent report ‘Attracting and retaining women in oil and gas engineering – a survey examining the gender talent gap’, stated that they had worked in different industries such as building and construction and even law and retail, before moving into oil and gas. No matter what your background, this industry will welcome people with the necessary skills and a willingness to learn.
Discover your interest Working in the oil and gas industry does not just involve being out on offshore rigs. As the lifecycle of an oil and gas project moves from the conceptual design stage through to decommissioning, different skillsets are required. Talk to a career advisor if you are still in school to find out more, and take time to research roles online. You will be surprised at the wide range of jobs that are available – there is sure to be something to interest you.
Gain experience From a week’s work experience to an internship or apprenticeship, get a feel of what the industry is like. Most major oil and gas operators such as Shell, Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and Total run schemes designed to give people a taster of what it is like working in the sector. Be warned however these are highly competitive, so make sure to do your research. In the UK, oil and gas skills organisation OPITO recently launched a new structured work placement programme, giving school pupils in Aberdeen access to some of the largest oil and gas industry operators and service companies. Keep an eye out for similar initiatives in your region.
Study, study, study The importance of studying the STEM subjects and obtaining an engineering undergraduate degree cannot be overstated. But, if you did not study the STEM subjects then do not panic, schemes like the Prince’s Trust ‘Get Into’ Oil and Gas can give you the advice you need to help you transition into the industry.
Get a mentor Chances are that you know someone in oil and gas – talk to them about their job. Mentoring is important in all careers and an oil and gas mentor will help you navigate the industry. Groups such as the STEMettes and UK young scientists fair ‘The Big Bang’ can help show you the rewarding opportunities available in engineering, whilst in the US, groups such as the STEM Education Coalition work to raise awareness and also provide a wealth of information.
Do your research Find out which disciplines are in highest demand, the best companies to work for and the regions that are experiencing particular oil and gas growth. A number of new discoveries are being made in more testing environments currently, which require more advanced technology and skills, a good example being the specialist subsurface discipline. Whilst Houston, Perth and Abu Dhabi remain hotspots for exploration and production activity, new opportunities are emerging in countries such as Mexico and Mozambique.
Know the pros With a wealth of opportunities for global travel and no end of complex technical challenges to solve, working in oil and gas engineering will give you a chance to see the world as well as stimulating your mind. If it’s variety that you are looking for, then the oil and gas industry also delivers. Not only are there a wide range of disciplines to choose from, you will also have the flexibility of working on either temporary or permanent assignments across the globe. The earning potential and benefits attached can also be substantial. For instance, did you know that skilled contractors working on major projects in the US can often earn over $250,000 per year.
And the cons A good salary, the opportunity for travel and an exhilarating and challenging work life – sounds perfect! But it is important that you also recognise the potential challenges associated with a career in oil and gas such as being away from friends and family, long hours, tight deadlines and the need for work flexibility to accommodate project demands. In order to get a foot in the door and gain the experience required to progress your career in oil and gas, you need to be willing to work your way up the ladder. In return for your hard work you could be rewarded with an exciting long-term career with one of the world’s top oil and gas operators and all of the benefits that this entails.
Sell yourself Brush up your CV. Ideally tailor it to a specific application, ensuring that you keep it concise and focused on the key points. Make sure you include your contact details, all relevant skills and experience, as well as your employment and education history in reverse chronological order. Once your CV is finished, start networking. Make sure you are on popular professional networks such as LinkedIn, pay attention to your profile, make connections, follow relevant industry news as well as influencers and thought leaders to help develop your market knowledge, and attend industry events to grow your circle of contacts.
Talk to an expert Oil and gas manpower specialists like NES Global Talent have vast experience placing people across the oil and gas industry. People are at the heart of our business and our discipline specific consultants have the industry knowledge and expertise to talk to you about the opportunities that are available to you and match you to the perfect role. We also provide a range of support solutions covering everything from payroll and fiscal compliance to insurance and emergency response services, minimising any concerns you may have about working in the industry or in a new location.
NES Global Talent provides a complete range of global talent solutions to the oil and gas, power, infrastructure, chemical, life sciences and rail sectors worldwide.