Drilling engineer


Career outlook for

Figures and forecasts for roles at the same level, which require similar skills and qualifications.

Average UK salary

Currently employed in Scotland

Jobs forecast

This information is supplied by LMI For All, where data is currently available for Scotland.

What's it like?

You would plan the construction of wells to extract oil and gas which are effective, safe for people to operate and do not pollute the environment.

You would plan the construction of the well, for example how deep it needs to be and how it will be lined.

You’d work out the best way to drill the well to ensure the process is safe and cost-effective. You’d decide what equipment and resources will be needed.

Working out the costs and how long the process will take would also be your responsibility.

Then you’d manage the actual drilling process. You’d organise the construction team, and make sure that the well is completed on time, on budget and works properly. To keep the team safe you’d need to be careful to follow health and safety regulations.

Throughout the planning and building process you would need to work with contractors, clients and other professionals such as geophysicists. You'd need to provide data about the site and prepare written reports to management.

You could work on an offshore platform or an onshore site.

Working conditions


If working offshore, you'd typically live and work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period onshore. You would work up to 12 hours a day on a 24-hour shift rota.


You could work on a fixed production platform with up to 100 workers, or on a smaller mobile rig in a team of around 20 people.


You would typically live and work on a rig or platform for two or three weeks, followed by two or three weeks’ rest period onshore.

UK employment status



Self employed

Here are some of the skills that people in this job would be most likely to have:

  • Communicating with people
  • Taking the lead
  • Using computers
  • Being physically fit
  • Solving mathematical problems
  • Budgeting
  • Planning and organising
  • Time management
  • Paying attention to detail
  • Making decisions

Build your skills

Your skills can help you choose the career that’s right for you. You can build your skills through work, study or activities you do in your spare time.

To understand more, have a look at what are my skills?

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you’ll need.


You will need a relevant engineering or science degree (SCQF level 9/10).

You can enter a Mechanical or Petroleum Engineering Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7) or Higher National Diploma courses (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

Entry to a Mechanical and Offshore Engineering or Petroleum Engineering Degree (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at B or above, some courses will require this in one sitting.

To enter a postgraduate course (SCQF level 11) you will usually require an honours degree in a relevant subject.

Useful subjects

Many courses and employers require:

  • Maths
  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Technologies subjects
  • English

You will also need

To work offshore you must:

  • pass regular medical examinations
  • pass an offshore survival course
  • To be aged 18 years of age or over

Helpful to have

Qualifications that show understanding and experience of the industry such as Skills for Work Engineering Skills (SCQF level 4).