Graduate Careers Advice

Graduate Energy And Utilities Careers

Lucy Miller

People working in the energy industry are responsible for supplying energy to homes and businesses across the UK.

The energy sector involves three main elements:

  1. Generating electricity
  2. Transporting gas and electricity
  3. Selling energy to customers

It is a changing industry, with developments in new green energy technologies leading to the creation of new jobs in the area of renewable technology. Working in the energy industry means getting into the heart of efforts to help the environment through recycling and being energy-efficient. You'll be the first to try new ways to be green on a large scale, looking into the technology that is being developed and improve how operations are carried out.

If you find out you're good at helping people learn the ropes and explaining how your job works, you can become an instructor and teach your skills to others.

The energy sector is vast, employing more than half a million people in the UK in everything from waste and water management and nuclear power to renewable energy industries and energy conservation.

Many companies in this industry have graduate and/or school leaver recruitment schemes, and scientific and engineering expertise is in high demand.

As well as engineers and research scientists, the sector also employs geologists, ecologists and a wide range of support staff - including health and safety managers, business consultants, and IT and marketing staff.

Working hours in the energy and utilities industry vary considerably depending on the kind of work you do. If you are based in an office or laboratory then you are likely to work normal hours Monday to Friday. Technical workers in the field often work irregular hours and are sometimes based in remote locations.

What Energy and Utilities roles can I do?

This is a great industry to get into as a school leaver or straight after sixth form, if you decide not to go into further education.

School leavers can find work in the energy and utilities sector with major employers including British Gas and NPower. You could start out as a trainee field technician, or work in customer service before moving up with experience.

You can go into more specialised work and research by getting a degree in environmental engineering, renewable energy, or earth sciences. You'll need A Levels in maths and sciences to get into these programmes.

If you're really interested in the science of how it all works, you can go into research to help develop the new technologies applied to utility plants. This requires a university degree along with work experience in your chosen field. Sandwich degrees are available in this sector to help you start your career on the right footing.

If you work for a company that has a list of clients it serves, there can be a lot of travelling around as you go from site to site. Or, you might need to be on-hand for a certain amount of time to make sure machines are working. You could also spend most of your time testing samples and working things out in a lab. So, hours will vary depending on the job, but you can set your own timetable as a freelance consultant.

There are a wide variety of graduate jobs available in the energy sector. The industry is so diverse that departments and roles can vary from company to company. Here is a summary of some of the different areas of work that graduates may encounter in the energy sector:

  • Engineering
  • Technical specialist
  • Operational management
  • Financial management
  • Strategy and planning
  • Marketing and PR

Within these broad areas there are a large range of specific job roles including,

  • Petroleum engineer
  • Energy manager
  • Engineering geologist
  • Drilling engineer
  • Environmental consultant
  • Water quality scientist
  • Wellsite geologist

How much can I earn as an Energy and Utility Worker? 

Entry-level technicians can earn around £17,000 or over £20,000. Those in management and other senior positions can earn over £30,000 or £40,000.

The energy sector offers competitive graduate starting salaries – across all industries the median starting salary for graduates at the country’s top 100 employers is £30,00 for 2016, according to research from High Fliers, and the energy and utilities sector may pay more highly than this.

According to Pay Scale, the average salaries for the below energy and utilities roles are as follows:

  • Petroleum engineer - £41,830
  • Energy manager - £38,999
  • Engineering geologist - £28,029
  • Drilling engineer - f £55,698
  • Environmental consultant - £24,668

What qualifications do I Need to be an Energy and Utility Worker?


After a Bachelors degree

If your degree is in engineering, environmental science, geology or something else directly related to the industry, you should be able to apply for entry level graduate roles or structured graduate schemes in your specific area of interest after you’ve completed your degree.

If you want to work in an area of the energy and utilities industry that is more office based and less scientific, such as marketing, you should be able to apply with the majority of degree subjects. There will also be a large number of graduate schemes available in these areas.

The majority of graduate employers will require a 2.1 in whichever degree you have.

What Skills Do I Need to be an Energy and Utility Worker?

Some areas of the energy sector will require you to have very specific engineering or technical skills that will have been obtained through formal qualifications. However across all energy jobs there are a range of soft skills that employers will be looking for such as communication, teamwork and time management.

Some of the skills that energy recruiters might look for are:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Analytical skills
  • An ability to work under pressure
  • Presentation skills
  • Time management
  • Organisation

Graduates from many degree disciplines will have the necessary skills for working in energy jobs. Degrees offer a good set of skills in logical thought, presentation, analysis and communication all of which are important for a career in the energy sector.

What Experience Do I Need to Get a Job in Energy and Utility?

Formal work experience is not required for school leavers who want to work in the energy and utilities sector.

If you are a graduate or are soon to be, contact organisations directly to see if you can go in for work experience. Take advantage of the opportunity for placement schemes within your course, too, if your degree is technical, engineering or science focused. 

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