So, you have completed your degree, now what? If you know you want to work in the oil and gas industry, where do you start?

An estimated

12,000 new entrants

To join this sector in the UK by 2019

The UK will be dependent on oil and gas for many decades to come, potentially even longer.

Therefore, this is a very exciting time for you to be applying for jobs and joining this industry. But, finishing university and entering the world of work can be daunting, particularly if you still aren't sure which direction you want your career to go in.

This guide will explain how to find a job in the oil and gas industry by helping you to:

Update your CV and write your covering letter

Understand which entry-level job roles you should be applying for

Consider where those jobs can lead you

Think about any further training or qualifications you might need

CV for oil and gas graduate jobs:

One of the first things you need to do is update your CV. It is vital that you use this to demonstrate the skills and experience you have gained during your time at university and show employers why you are right for the role

Personal Statement: This should be the first thing an employer sees on your CV and it must be tailored to the role you are applying for. It should concisely explain why you are applying for the role and why you are the right person for it.

Education: This will be the focus of a graduate CV and should be written in reverse-chronological order with your degree at the top. It is particularly important to include key skills gained, while you have minimal work experience.

Employment History: It is unlikely that you will have much previous work experience and, if you do, it may not be relevant now. It is ok to include these roles. There will, of course, be some transferrable skills but you can be brief. Include relevant work experience here too.

Hobbies and Interests: This enlightens the employer as to what you’re like as ‘a person’. Don’t fill this in for the sake of it – it is helpful if this back up your skills and experience.

References: For now simply write that these are ‘available upon request.’

If you need a little help writing your first professional CV, download our free CV Template below.

Download now

NES Operations Manager James Kinney, who previously worked as a recruitment manager for an oil and gas consultancy, says the three main qualities employers look for in a graduate are...

“Technical knowledge: This may sound obvious but a clear understanding - and confidence in that understanding - is extremely important in all aspects of engineering.

Commercial understanding: Not only to have technical knowledge but also to be able to adapt to a sales environment. Often, especially in concept/design engineering, the difference between what the client wants and the best option for the client are very different. Companies often look for engineering graduates who can see the difference between the most accurate design and the design that best suits the clients budget and needs.

Communication: It’s great to have the technical knowledge and the commercial sense to understand the client’s exact needs, but being able to communicate this often complex information is key.

Cover letter for oil and gas jobs

Your cover letter should be unique to you and specific to the job role that you are applying for. This template should provide you with guidance to help you write your own. But, before you do, it is important to research the company and role and think about how your skills and experience are right for it.

Remember, your cover letter is the first thing the hiring manager will look at and so provides a first impression. You should give them all the information they need to see that you are right for the job while keeping it short and concise.

It is estimated that more than


people are directly employed within this industry worldwide, plus several million more are indirectly employed for support.

Useful qualifications for the oil and gas industry include

  • A degree (either directly related or in a similar field)

  • Technical or safety-related certifications

  • Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications

  • Masters level qualification (typically in science and engineering)

  • Doctorate (typically in science or engineering)

What makes a great graduate stand out? James Kinney said: “The confidence and ability to challenge – respectfully - the ‘norm’. Often in engineering we look at what has previously been successful and use similar models/concepts. Graduates, by their very nature, are out of the box thinkers who have fresh ideas and outlooks and, in my previous role working for an engineering consultancy, it was interesting watching new graduates challenge the status quo and handling the response and challenges from senior engineers.”

oil and gas The most valuable skills

Ability to learn

Problem solving


Attention to detail


Strong work ethic

Technical skills

Specific skills are dependent on the entry level oil and gas jobs you are applying for because the sector has a wide range of roles that all require differing strengths and abilities.

NES recruit graduates into the oil and gas industry in more than 26 locations across the world

Find a job

Where will my degree take me?

A career in geology

During this Earth Science degree you will learn about the Earth’s composition and processes as well as developing analytic and other key skills. This will set you up for jobs in the oil industry, such as...


Mudlogging is seen as an entry level job into the industry and an ideal position to gain knowledge and observe the operation of an oil rig. In this role you will monitor and recording drilling activity, providing information about the well status during the extraction of oil and gas. There is the opportunity to move on to be a senior mudlogger, but many will advance into the role of data engineer or crew chief.

Engineering Geologist

There are two main routes for career progression here and these will depend on your experience. You might work in a technical role as an engineering geologist before progressing to a senior role or you may move into an engineering management role. Gaining chartered status will help you to develop your role, as will keeping up to date with this fast-moving industry.


Once you have gained some work experience in this role you can move up to a senior role, then team leader, then a senior role in management. It is also an option to move into a specialist technical role or a generalist role with more responsibility. A Masters or PhD in a geophysics or geosciences subject will help you to progress.


You can progress to a senior geoscientist role with experience – with the chance to become a team leader or senior manager. Many will become chartered geoscientists, and it is important to take part in activities that will develop you professionally.

Wellsite Geologist

Before entering this role you will have gained a minimum of two to five years’ experience as a mudlogger or measuring while drilling engineer. You may also have a relevant MSc and experience of working as a geologist for an oil company. Graduates considering this career should aim for chartered geologist status. Many wellsite geologists go on to become operations geologists for oil companies, while others might undertake further training and become petrophysicists or reservoir engineers for oil companies.

51.8% of geology graduates are employed

31.7% have gone on to further education and

4.3% are working while studying.

Work experience

You should have completed plenty of fieldwork during an Earth Science degree and will have perhaps even completed a placement year during your studies. You may want to add to this with paid or even voluntary work on short-term environmental projects. Work experience will help you to make decision about your future career as well as helping your CV to stand out.


As well as a specific knowledge of geology, the practical side of your degree will provide you with expertise in field and laboratory investigations. You will also learn: skills in observation, data collection, analysis and interpretation, the ability to prepare, process and present data as well as the ability to handle information in a range of different mediums.

Further study

Many geology graduates go on to take a relevant MSc course, particularly those wishing to pursue a particular field within this subject. A number of students will also continue onto a PhD to develop specialist skill and knowledge.

Did you know? Gaining chartered status increases both your job and salary prospects

A career in chemical engineering

A degree in Chemical Engineering will enable you to be involved in ground- breaking technologies. This could lead you into a career in the oil and gas industry such as:

Chemical Engineer

Career development tends to be dependent on achieving chartered status. However, it is possible to reach senior management much quicker than in other sectors. You will start to gain experience on a variety of projects before working towards project management, moving into research and development, a specialist role or more commercial areas.

Petroleum Engineer

Career development opportunities are high in this sector, with companies recruiting an increasing amount of new graduate engineers and promoting those that show potential. Graduates may progress from primarily technical roles through to senior technical roles. You must be willing to relocate for this role, which could take you all around the world.

Production Manager

It is likely will start as a trainee after graduating and will gain experience you in a number of different aspects of project management. You can then become a production supervisor or shift manager before becoming a production manager. You may eventually pursue a more strategic role or enter general management. You may want to complete a professional qualification to help with your progression.

Did you know? Typical starting salaries for a chemical engineer are in the region of


*Third party data, not NES Global Talent statistics

Work experience

This is a valuable way to get first-hand knowledge of specialised industries and is useful if you are undecided about the area you wish to go in to.


As well as technical knowledge, you will also pick up transferable skills such as problem-solving, project management, and presentation skills.

Further study

Many graduates will go on to further study to gain professional status as a chartered engineer or incorporated engineer. Others will go on to postgraduate studies in areas such as science or management.

Did you know? It is projected that 1.82 million people with engineering skills will be needed by 2022

a career in Civil Engineering

This degree will set you up for construction roles within the oil and gas sector, such as:

Structural Engineer

Starting as construction designers, structural engineers can quickly move on to being project managers. Gaining chartered status allows for professional recognition around the world.

Quantity Surveyor

Once you have become a chartered quantity surveyor, you can work across a broad range of disciplines or you can specialise and develop an in-depth knowledge of a particular field. You can also help your career progression by becoming a member of a relevant institute.

Design Engineer

Many will enter this profession via a structured graduate training programme, gaining experience in a range of areas before becoming fully chartered. Further qualifications and CPD in specialist areas will improve your job prospects. You can become senior before progress into team leadership, project management, consulting and management roles.

Did you know? Design engineering positions are among the hardest graduate vacancies to fill, resulting in many well-paid opportunities

Work experience

Any construction or civil engineering setting will help you to build up your knowledge and experience. If your course doesn’t include a placement, it is in your interest to look for relevant work experience.


Civil engineers are in demand, particularly in the oil and gas sector, for their technical and subject-specific knowledge and understanding. The skills you pick up will include critical thinking, the ability to interpret data as well as analytical and decision-making skills.

Further study

Many new graduates who enter professional training with a civil engineering company will study part time while working, eventually becoming either chartered or incorporated engineers. Postgraduate degrees will enable students to develop specialist knowledge. It is also possible to carry out research through a MRes, MPhil, PhD or Masters.

How can I develop my career and progress in this industry?

There are many different careers paths you can go down when working in the oil and gas industry. It is best to have in mind the type of role you might like to pursue so you can ensure your experience is in line with this. This is an industry in which a few years of crucial experience translates into great opportunities and career advancements. Many companies also offer on the job training, which will help you to progress up the career ladder.

Did you know?

Oil and gas workers

earn three times the

average national wage*

*Third party data, not NES Global Talent statistics

average salary

Jobs in the oil and gas industry can be incredibly lucrative, and many include bonuses and overtime payment. Oil and gas workers earn three times the national average, with salaries averaging around £80,960.

However, there are a wide variety of roles available and pay will depend on your role and location – for starters. A gas engineer’s starting salary, for example, would be around £14,000 but this would rise to around £30,000 once fully qualified. Offshore drillers can earn between £30,000 and £50,000 – depending on experience. Refining, pipeline or subsea engineers, petroleum geologists, oil traders and risk managers can earn somewhere between £50,000 and £70,000. Meanwhile, completion engineers and drilling consultants on average earn at least a six figure salary, if not more.

Please note, these figures are from third party data, not NES Global Talent statistics

“Be persistent. Sometimes you may need to look past the big operators and contractors and look at working with the smaller more streamlined consultancies and concept companies in oil and gas. These companies are the future leaders of the industry, the companies who will look at innovative ways to save time, money and efficiencies. I would also advise new graduates to spend as much time as possible learning all aspects of oil and gas and not rush to get promoted or move towards a senior position.” says James Kinney.

Do you feel ready to apply for a job in the oil and gas industry?

Now your CV and cover letter are in order check out our jobs page and get your career started.

Apply now

NES Global Talent is proud to announce the strategic alignment between ourselves and the Fircroft Group to create NES Fircroft, one of the leading human capital solutions businesses for engineering and technical talent globally.