Getting to Know Offshore Engineering
Offshore engineering is an exciting career path for those who love some adventure in their lives.
Offshore work is most famously connected to the oil and gas industry in which rigs and platforms are constructed off the coasts of oil-producing nations in an effort to extract petroleum and natural gas.
The offshore sector also deals with wind farming, telecommunications and power cabling, wave power, and mining of minerals.
In general, any type of construction that deals with the creation and installation of structures or facilities in a maritime environment is part of offshore engineering.
If you were to pursue a career in offshore engineering, you might hope to be employed by one of the following:
- Oil and gas companies around the world
- Renewable energy companies around the world
- Construction companies
- Contractors for offshore work
- Consultancies for engineering design
- Contractors for drilling, maintenance, supply, and other specialist services
- Mud analyst firms
- Suppliers of equipment
Like most areas of maritime study, this is an area where there is perpetually a shortage of skilled personnel. That could potentially make it a very lucrative career to train for, especially if it matches your personality attributes. In fact, in Malaysia, engineering positions for oil and gas companies among the top 10 highest-paying jobs!
Career advancement usually happens quickly as well. Even if you’re starting at an entry-level position as a roughneck, you could become a driller in a few years. A professional engineer could easily become a manager. On top of that, you might even get the chance to work in many different countries.
What Offshore Engineering Entails
Taking the oil and gas industry as an example, offshore engineering is needed to build and install the platforms, lay the pipelines, and transport the fuel. The industry uses sophisticated, cutting-edge techniques and technology to extract oil and gas from the sea beds; therefore, engineers, scientists, and various other skilled and semi-skilled workers are needed. Managers are also needed to manage all these personnel, as are support and supply for all these staff members.
Climate change has driven many us to reduce our carbon footprint and environmental impact. Therefore, offshore renewable energy from wind and water is a burgeoning industry that has been creating more career opportunities for skilled personnel.
Here is a more detailed breakdown on the kinds of opportunities available. Note that this is specific to the offshore oil and gas industry. There are three areas of work in this industry:
Surveying and testing to find reserves of oil and gas.
Making decisions on how to drill the wells, extract the fuel, and set up production facilities.
Production and Maintenance
Maintaining the equipment and constructing new platforms. Engineers will receive opportunities in design, planning, and project management.
Production – The main reason the rig exists is to drill for oil. The production team performs this vital job. Roustabouts will perform basic labouring jobs such as loading and unloading as well as general maintenance. Roughnecks, derrickmen, and drillers will carry out the manual work of drilling. Toolpushers oversee the operations, making sure the drilling goes smoothly and that equipment and materials are always available.
Maintenance – Offshore facilities must be able to maintain the entire crew as well as the facilities. Sometimes there might be hundreds of people on board. This means that there will be career opportunities for electricians, mechanics, welders, medical personnel, cooks, divers, deck and engineer officers, and crew members.
You might wonder if you have the traits needed to succeed in an offshore engineering career.
Here is a handy checklist of what you’ll need:
- Physical strength and fitness for manual work
- Preparation to work outdoors in all weather conditions
- Excellent ability to work as part of a team
- Reliability, safety-consciousness, discipline, and responsibility
- Preparation to work during odd hours on a shift basis
- Ability to cope with long periods away from home and family
- Sufficient knowledge in engineering including structural design, fluid dynamics, control systems, materials technology, and other similar topics
Training Required for Offshore Engineering
The minimum age for working on an offshore structure is 18. Thus, to work offshore, you do not need any formal qualifications if you’re keen to start with basic labouring work. For those wishing to be technicians, apprenticeships are available.
But to be an offshore engineer, as with any other career, you will require significant training and qualifications. You may consider doing a diploma, then move on to a degree followed by specialist training and even further education.
Most engineers and scientists on offshore facilities will have a degree in engineering, chemistry, mathematics, geology, physics, or geophysics. Further training is usually provided on the job via short courses.
Before heading offshore to your facility, you will have to undergo a survival course like the BOSIET training course. Read our article about BOSIET here.
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, offshore engineering provides exciting career prospects, can land you a lucrative starting salary, and put you on track for rapid career advancement. However, there are definitely drawbacks as you will be working out at sea, a potentially risky environment that is volatile and hostile. If you’re seriously considering studying offshore engineering, read our article here about how a great education and training institute like Ranaco can help further your dreams.