Petroleum engineering is concerned with activities relating to the evaluation, development and production of hydrocarbons. Over the next few years, oil and gas output is predicted to rise but current economic conditions, increased cost of extracting natural resources and a reduction in new oilfield discoveries, mean that the oil and gas industry faces many challenges.

However, out of adversity comes opportunity. We are likely to be dependant on oil and gas for many years to come and, as a result, there is a demand for skilled people to join the industry to help develop new techniques and technologies; maximising oil and gas recovery at minimum cost whilst also reducing environmental impact... and that means employment and business opportunities!

Where do I start?

Within the petroleum engineering sector you could be looking at a wide range of occupations. Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.

Job roles

Job roles in this sector include:

Finding opportunities

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.

  • Society of Petroleum Engineers – A professional organisation which collects, disseminates and exchanges technical knowledge concerning the exploration, development and production of oil and gas resources
  • UK Petroleum Industry Association – UKPIA represents the interests of companies engaged in the UK downstream oil industry on a range of common issues relating to refining, distribution and marketing of oil products (in non-competitive areas)
  • Energy Institute – A professional body for the energy industry which delivers good practice and professionalism across the sector
  • Opito – The oil and gas industry's focal point for skills, learning and workforce development
  • Oil and Gas UK – The leading representative body for the UK offshore oil and gas industry,offering a gateway into industry networks and expertise
  • The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3) – A UK engineering institution whose activities and website focus on the whole materials cycle
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers – An independent engineering society which promotes and shares knowledge on sustainable energy use and engineering sustainable supply
  • The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) – A global professional membership organisation for people with relevant experience or an interest in chemical engineering
  • Petroleum Economist – A monthly magazine which offers analysis of the energy industry and opinion on the events and people shaping the global energy market
  • Rigzone – A leading website for the oil and gas sector, providing information on industry news, trends and jobs
  • Petroleum Exploration Society of Great Britain – PESGB provides news and information on events, field trips, conferences and lectures relating to the scientific and technical aspects of petroleum exploration
  • Industrial Technology – A site which provides events of interest and importance occurring in the engineering and manufacturing world
  • Mark Allen Group – MAG provides up to date brand information for the business, manufacturing and engineering sectors
  • TARGETjobs – Also offers an online guide, providing comprehensive information on engineering sectors, employers, recruitment processes and postgraduate study

Getting experience

Competition for jobs in the oil and gas industry can be fierce and work experience could be the deciding factor in securing a graduate job. Undertaking work experience is invaluable to develop expertise and the all-important transferable skills, which will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work.

However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. Find out more about creating a targeted CV.

The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Think about small and medium size companies as well as large organisations.


As part of your degree programme you will have the opportunity to take part in a salaried placement year, either in the UK or overseas to gain proven industrial experience by the time you graduate. This will provide you with an invaluable insight into working life and offer a unique opportunity to apply the industry knowledge you are learning as part of your studies. Placements will also enable you to gain transferable skills in the workplace, such as communication, teamwork and time management, in addition to finding out more about a specific job role or industry, which will lead to more informed decisions upon graduating.

Within the Faculty of Technology, our students are placed with a wide range of companies across a variety of sectors. Many organisations recruit students every year, and some arrange a period of overlap to ensure continuity of the work or projects that are carried out by placement students. To find out more about the range of different companies and roles students in your area have previously worked with, please find out more on the Maths, Physics, Computing, Engineering and Surveying placements webpage.

To find out more about sourcing and arranging your placement, we would encourage you to get in contact with your placement office.


An internship is usually a work experience opportunity that is offered for a fixed period or a limited amount of time. Internships tend to be undertaken by students and graduates who are looking to gain more relevant/industry specific skills and experience in their particular field.

These opportunities can be paid for a period of between one to four months and typically take place over the summer, with closing dates generally around January to March, but some can be earlier.

Searching for placement and internship opportunities

The websites below provide further information about placement and internship opportunities hosted by employers across gas and oil extraction, oil refining, nuclear and other power generation and process industries.

  • RateMyPlacement – Offers information on placements, internships, insights and work experience with a range of companies and organisations across the engineering sector
  • Gradcracker – As the UK’s careers website for Technology students, Gradcracker provides a search function for placements and internships relevant to your degree discipline
  • TARGETjobs – Provides a specific section on different career sectors, with the ability to search for placement and internship opportunities in engineering
  • Prospects – Has its own search tool for work experience opportunities across sectors, including in engineering, energy and utilities, science and pharmaceuticals
  • Milkround – Provides a search tool for internships and industrial placements across sectors, including engineering and science
  • All About Careers – Outlines different types of work experience and companies within engineering, referring to external websites and hosting its own jobs board
  • Beetroot – Links to a variety of internships and placements in the UK, including across engineering sectors
  • Glassdoor – A growing job database offering company reviews, job opportunities and CEO approval ratings
  • Step Recruitment – Provider of paid student and graduate internships and placements across a range of sectors, including engineering

Companies offering potential engineering experience

The websites below are those of some companies known to offer experience opportunities.

By accessing these sites and carrying out some initial research about the companies, you may find additional information about some of the opportunities available to you.


Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.

Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.

Key skill areas you will need to consider developing will be project management, technical and practical skills, the ability to collaborate effectively with others and communication skills.

Examples of roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited to that will enhance these competencies include:

  • STEM Ambassador with STEM Learning – an opportunity to share your knowledge and passion for your degree subject with young people and to act as an inspiring role model through engagement in a range of learning and educational based activities. An opportunity to enhance interpersonal skills, presentation skills and to network with a wide range of professionals who work within STEM industries.
  • Canal Camp Volunteer with the Waterway Recovery Group – a residential opportunity offering the chance to use specialist and construction machinery and work as part of a team to support restoration.
  • Conservation Volunteer with Groundwork South – working alongside other community volunteers to undertake environmental and access improvements in the nature along a local stream. The role involves practical and outdoor work.
  • Events Co-ordinator with the RNLI – supporting the delivery of events in the local community, implementing new and innovative fundraising opportunities and engaging in networking opportunities.
  • Home Safety Advisor with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service – acting as a representative to engage with members of the community, visiting households in pairs to conduct a Home Fire Safety Visit; identifying fire hazards and inspecting/fitting smoke alarms if required. An opportunity to enhance communication and interpersonal skills by engaging with a range of organisations.

You can access such opportunities via the Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local roles for students and graduates.

If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email

Tips for success when looking for experience

Consider your requirements

Before starting your search consider your requirements:

Initially, it is important to identify whether or not there is specific experience you wish to gain within a particular sector or could your search be broader where you are looking to gain transferable skills? Some key considerations for your search may include:

  • Are you looking for experience that relates to a specific unit you are taking as part of your university course?
  • What are your career goals and aspirations? How might the opportunity help you work towards these?
  • Are there any gaps in your skillset that need to be addressed? How might an opportunity enable you to fill this gap?
  • What is the time commitment and location of the role? Does this fit in with your plans and other commitments?
  • What type of organisation would you like to gain experience with? A bigger national or multinational company? A small to medium-sized enterprise, charity of not-for-profit organisation?

Make sure you carry out thorough research

Research the different potential employers who may be looking for graduates across gas and oil extraction, oil refining, nuclear and other power generation and process industries before you apply for work experience; knowing what you want to specialise in will help you focus your research and ensure you gain the relevant skills. Are you interested in working within product and process development? Or within technical, quality or project management-based roles? Do you have a specific goal to work within research or materials engineering?

As a starting point take a look at the job profiles included on the Prospects website to consider the type of work experience recommended and the skills you will need to develop to enhance graduate applications to specific roles.

Be proactive:

Use your initiative and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively. Send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.


There are many opportunities for engineering students to network – this is about interacting with others to share information and contacts. It’s a great way as a student and as a graduate to meet a variety of people in the engineering industry – from recruiters and executives to graduates and other students in your area.

It is also helpful to seek advice on how to secure work experience or a graduate role; how to approach the application and interview process; exploring job opportunities; and gaining an insight into the industry, including individual companies. It is also an opportunity to build your confidence and communication skills in a professional setting.

Opportunities to network may include careers fairs, employer talks or presentations, guest lectures and workshops or skills sessions delivered by recruiters. Find out more from TARGETjobs.

Create a positive online presence

Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our ‘Networking and Social Media’ section for further guidance. ‌

Finding a job

There are many different areas within the petroleum engineering sector and work can be varied. Areas of work you could get involved in include: production and reservoir engineering; drilling, mining and mudlogging; renewable energy; production technology; project/operational management; sales; trading; and research and development, so some thought as to which area(s) you are particularly interested in will help you to target your job search.

Employers who recruit in these areas

  • Electricity, gas and water companies
  • Exploration, extraction and mining businesses
  • Nuclear power and renewable energy organisations
  • Sewage services, recycling and waste management companies
  • Local authorities and central government departments (such as the Environment Agency)
  • Environmental and engineering consultancies

Useful websites to help you start your job search

  • Gradcracker – A job site entirely dedicated to graduate engineer recruitment.
  • The Geological Society – The Geological Society provide information on the latest employment opportunities in geology and the earth science industry.
  • My Energy Future - A careers information site for the energy sector, providing insights into graduate roles, developments across industries, and information on the latest internship, placement and job vacancies, including graduate schemes
  • – A hiring platform designed to connect job seekers and employers.
  • Rigzone – A leading website for oil and gas industry jobs; connecting thousands of industry professionals with jobs around the globe.
  • – A site dedicated to oil and gas job vacancy information.
  • Just Engineers – Job site for the engineering sector. Vacancies include petroleum, electrical, mechanical, design, environmental and civil engineering positions.
  • Oil and Gas Job Search – Links to a range of oil and gas related jobs.
  • Jobtensor – A specialist recruiter across engineering, science and IT.
  • jobs4mining – A job site dedicated to the mining industry.
  • Engineering Jobs – A site advertising jobs for engineers across all specialisms.
  • Step Recruitment – provider of paid graduate internships, placements and permanent opportunities across a range of sectors, including engineering.

TARGETjobs has recently renewed their advice and information on ‘how to get hired’; sharing top tips and insights into the individual recruitment processes of some of the biggest engineering employers. Some examples have been included below, but you can access further information through the employer hubs on the TARGETjobs website and look out for the lightbulb icon under each employer name.

Tips for finding a job

  • Keep up to date with news and trends in the petroleum engineering industry by following the professional bodies on twitter, this information might help you identify opportunities to network and tap into the hidden job market.
  • Keep your on line job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
  • If you are keen to focus on a specific sector within petroleum engineering, check out the specialist websites for these areas for current vacancies.
  • Most companies have a Twitter, Facebook and/or LinkedIn account, register with them as this is often a place where new opportunities are posted, and where you can keep in touch with their current activities .

Further information

If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.

  • Oil and Gas UK – The leading representative body for the UK offshore oil and gas and gas industry, offering a gateway to industry networks and expertise.
  • Prospects – An insight into careers in the renewable energy industry from Prospects.
  • Energy Voice – A news platform for the oil and gas, renewables and wider energy sectors.

Specialist agencies

  • Oscar – Specialists in technical recruitment; particularly in the oil and gas field.
  • Engineering Jobs – Online recruitment site providing engineering related vacancies for professionals across relevant sectors.

Follow companies and professional bodies on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn to tap into the hidden jobs market and also receive news and information on the petroleum engineering sector.

Contact us

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and covering letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews

We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.


Get in touch with us