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We all rely on oil and gas supplies to maintain our modern day lifestyles i.e. Not only to dry our hair in the morning but to make that hairdryer. Oil in particular supplies the energy and raw materials to manufacture goods and provide services across the globe.

Regardless of whether you believe climate change is happening or not, at some point these supplies will start to dwindle. When this happens, and many believe it already has, prices will start to rise dramatically.

While we still have enough to manage it is important to look for alternatives but also find new ways to improve efficiency. This industry is at the front line of this issue, balancing demand for oil and gas with renewable sources, and the potential increased use of nuclear power.

At present nuclear power supplies 20% of our electricity and the Royal Navy’s submarines and employs 56,000 people in the UK. This was set to increase with a number of new power stations proposed. However, after the problems Japan faced following the tsunami in 2011, nuclear power’s future may be less certain. For the latest news on this visit the Energy Institute website or Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Although nuclear power is considered a renewable source of energy, it is differentiated due to the waste it produces and how this can be managed. Renewable sources usually include Hydropower; Solar; Wind; Geothermal; and Biomass.

Overall, this industry directly employs 135,000 people, with an additional 500,000 in supporting roles. There are 60,000 businesses and this is expected to grow as the importance of renewables grows and with it a need for technical expertise.

A range of sub-sectors and opportunities to explore

The majority of opportunities in this industry are science or engineering based and therefore you are required to have a degree in this area and eventually become chartered. If you do have a degree in a different subject or a different level or education, opportunities will be available within the commercial professions such as marketing, sales or management. Find out more about these areas by visiting other sections of our website. There are also opportunities for Maths graduates in both commercial and technical areas of energy companies.

Sub-sectors of this industry include:

  • Energy Management
  • Oil/Petroleum
  • Gas
  • Renewables
  • Nuclear
  • Waste management
  • Water
  • Defence.

Opportunities are available in:

  • Consultancy
  • Marketing & Distribution
  • Research & Development
  • Commercial Services (i.e. HR, Finance, Admin)
  • Project management
  • Exploration & Production
  • Refining
  • Operations & Decommissioning
  • Production, reprocessing and storage (nuclear)
  • Design.

Work environment and travel opportunities

Due to the global nature of the projects in this industry, there may be opportunities abroad. However, most jobs will be office or lab based with opportunities to visit sites and clients when required. For those that are based in an office environment, hours tend to be a normal working week. For those working in more unusual settings i.e. on board a ship surveying the sea floor, ‘normal’ may mean working shifts and extended periods away from home.

Good starting salaries
Starting salaries for graduates entering schemes is above average at £32,500 in the energy sector. However, they may be lower for jobs outside formal graduate training schemes and engineering and industrial salaries are quoted as being lower at £26,500.

Source: The Graduate Market in 2012 – High Fliers Research

Main players in graduate recruitment

There are a number of large companies that offer graduate scheme opportunities. These range from engineering and science related positions to more commercial positions. Some also offer positions for undergraduates, helping you gain that vital work experience and maybe even a job when you graduate.

Others include:

  • Chevron
  • BG
  • Deloitte
  • British Energy
  • Total
  • Schneider Electric.
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