Is Energy a Good Career Path?

Our Recruitment Manager, Jonnie Purdie, discusses the pros and cons of a career in the energy sector.

oil rig workers

March 20, 2024

Opportunities and Considerations

Having worked in the recruitment industry for over a decade, I would like to share some thoughts and insights for anyone considering a career in the energy industry, and hopefully make your decision that bit easier.

In the ever-evolving landscape of global industries, the energy sector stands out as a particularly essential field to support future growth, innovation, and sustainable development. In this blog, I will delve into the dynamic nature of energy careers, addressing their stability, growth prospects, technological advancements, environmental impact, and the potential challenges faced by professionals in this domain.  

The Diverse Landscape of Energy Careers

The energy sector is characterised by its vast array of career paths, encompassing a wide range of skills and disciplines. From engineers working on the next generation of innovative technology to policy experts shaping energy regulations, the sector is as varied as it is vital. Renewable energy in particular, has seen exponential growth in recent years, offering roles in innovative fields such as solar and wind energy, bioenergy, and hydropower. This growth is not just limited to technical roles; there are opportunities in project management, legal, compliance, public relations, and more, each playing a crucial part in the energy puzzle of the future. This growth is also one of the many reasons we decided to launch our new Low Carbon & Renewables division at the start of this year.

Professionals in the energy sector can find themselves working in various environments - from research labs developing new energy technologies to on-site roles on wind farms or oil rigs. For those interested in international work, the global nature of the energy industry means that opportunities are not necessarily confined to one's home country but oftentimes span across multiple continents.

Many professionals find that the opportunities for international work and collaboration are particularly exciting. From offshore oil rigs in the North Sea to solar farms in the Sahara Desert, and wind farms on the coastlines of Southeast Asia to geothermal plants in the volcanic regions of Iceland, professionals in the energy sector have the unique opportunity to work in some of the most remote, challenging, and exotic environments on Earth. Additionally, the movement of people is very common within the energy. Workers can easily find opportunities to work abroad in various capacities, such as expatriate roles in national or multinational companies.  

Job Stability and Growth Prospects

The energy sector’s resilience to economic downturns is a significant draw for choosing the industry as a career path. As the global population grows and emerging economies expand, the energy demand continues to soar, ensuring the sector's relevance and stability for the future. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), global energy demand is projected to grow by 1% per year through 2040, emphasising the sector's enduring vitality.

Unsurprisingly, the shift towards sustainable energy solutions has opened new avenues for employment. With the launch of our new Low Carbon and Renewables sector, WeConnect Energy is perfectly poised to support organisations in identifying the right talent to pioneer the energy transition. Governments worldwide are setting ambitious renewable energy targets and there is a growing need for professionals who can contribute to these goals. This transformation is not just creating new jobs but also evolving existing ones, requiring an adaptable workforce ready to learn new skills and technical knowledge.

However, this does not mean that traditional energy sources will be obsolete, far from it. The world’s industries continue to require an increasing demand for electricity. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) highlights that while renewable energy sources are the fastest-growing energy sources, natural gas and oil will continue to play a crucial role in the global energy mix through 2050. Thus, there will still be ample opportunities within the oil, gas and coal industries worldwide as a variety of different factors strive to piece together an ever-varying composition of energy resources.  

Throughout my time in recruitment, I have seen a consistent and growing demand for skilled talent in what is normally classed as ‘traditional’ energy sectors, both in the UK and overseas. Our skilled team of experts have plenty of experience working with some of the world’s leading energy providers across the Drilling, Subsurface and Corporate disciplines identifying and providing best in class senior level hires.  

Competitive Salaries and Benefits

One of the most compelling aspects of a career in the energy sector is the competitive remuneration packages. Given the specialised skills required in many energy roles, salaries in this sector are often higher than the national average, with average annual salaries of employees on long-term contracts in North America, Australasia and Europe over €75,000 on average. Salaries at this level can be found across the energy spectrum, for example, engineers working on-site with frequent travel can expect salaries that reflect their high level of expertise and the critical nature of their work, regardless of whether they work with renewable energy or oil and gas. In the Middle East we have seen significant expatriate opportunities for skilled workers within the energy industry. The prospect of warm weather, a high quality of living in addition earning a tax-free salary is an extremely attractive proposition to encourage skilled workers to relocate.  

In addition to base salaries, many energy sector jobs come with comprehensive benefits, such as health and life insurance, retirement savings plans, bonuses and stock options. Professional development opportunities are also a key benefit, with many employers funding further education or training to help their employees stay at the forefront of technological advancements in order to remain competitive.

The Role of Technology and Innovation

The energy sector is a hub of innovation and technological advancement. Professionals in this field are often at the cutting edge, working with emerging technologies that have the potential to revolutionise how we produce and consume energy. This could involve developing more efficient solar panels, integrating new technology in drilling procedures, pioneering wind turbine designs, or exploring new energy storage methods that can help overcome the intermittent nature of renewable sources.

Working in such a technologically advanced field requires a commitment to continuous learning and adaptation. Professionals must stay informed about the latest developments and be ready to apply new techniques and technologies. This dynamic environment can be enriching for those who thrive on innovation and are passionate about contributing to the future of energy.

However, whilst energy practices are developing and branching into different areas, we will still rely on oil and gas as key components in the global energy mix for a substantial amount of time. As the global electricity demand is expected to triple by 2050, renewable resources in themselves will not be sufficient to support the energy consumption of the world (McKinsey, 2022). Many innovative technologies have yet to be fully developed, and while we await trial, testing, and implementation, the world still needs a stable energy sector to ensure smooth operation of all industries worldwide.

Required Skills and Qualifications

A career in the energy sector typically requires a combination of technical expertise and soft skills. For technical roles, degrees in fields like engineering, environmental science, or geosciences are often essential. Additionally, many positions require specific certifications or technical skills, depending on the area of specialisation.

Soft skills are equally important in this industry. The ability to work in teams, strong communication skills, and adaptability are essential, especially in an environment where multidisciplinary collaboration is standard practice. Problem-solving skills are also crucial, as professionals often face complex challenges that require innovative solutions.

Challenges in the Energy Sector

While a career in energy is rewarding, it comes with its own challenges. The industry is subject to fluctuating market conditions and regulatory changes, which can impact job security and project viability. Professionals often work in demanding conditions, especially in roles that require on-site presence in remote locations or harsh environments. However, according to KPMG’s Voices on 2030 – The future of energy, the sector is only expected to grow and develop, regardless of various setbacks and turmoil.

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About Me and WeConnect Energy

Since 2008, WeConnect Energy have successfully provided tailored permanent recruitment and contracting solutions for the energy industry. The energy landscape is dynamic and ever changing. We are matchmakers, facilitators, and success-enablers. Our passion? Bringing people together, providing robust solutions for organisations, and crafting opportunities for the visionaries of today. That is why we don't just act; we act with precision, speed, and expertise.

I joined WeConnect Energy at the beginning of 2024 as their Recruitment Manager and have thoroughly enjoyed the experience so far. We are a company that live and breathe our values every day and are passionate about the energy industry.  I am responsible for the day-to-day management of our team of experts across the Oil & Gas and Low Carbon and Renewables sectors ensuring we are providing an industry leading service to both candidates and clients.

If you have any questions regarding your career in the energy sector, don’t hesitate to reach out to myself or the team, and keep an eye out for future blogs from me over the coming quarters.

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