Careers Service Occupations

Energy and Utilities

Energy and Utilities

About

The energy & utilities sector has a wide range of opportunities available to students and graduates, whether in large international companies or small organisations developing specialist technology.

In these pages, you can find information and advice on careers in: 

  • Renewable energy - wind, marine, wave & hydroelectric power, solar, and bioenergy
  • Nuclear
  • Oil and gas
  • Utilities - power generators, distributors and suppliers and water companies 

You may also be interested in our Environment pages, which includes advice on careers in environmental management and consultancy, conservation, sustainability and waste management/recycling.

Careers advice

The energy industry has historically been dominated by the use of fossil fuels. The impact of climate change has, however, accelerated the need to develop alternative clean, sustainable sources of energy, such as renewables, nuclear and hydrogen and find ways to capture and store carbon.

While oil and gas still account for a high percentage of today’s energy, it’s predicted that these will be replaced by renewables, biomass and waste as heat sources and to power transport and industry. (Source: PwC report: Inventing tomorrow’s energy system)

According to the UK Government’s Energy White Paper: Powering our Net Zero Future, almost half a million people across the UK are employed in the low-carbon economy and its supply chains, including electric vehicle manufacturing, reconditioning, recycling and offshore wind. The global markets for low-carbon technologies, electric vehicles and clean energy are growing fast: zero emission vehicles alone are predicted to support 40,000 jobs by 2030.

Useful links: General

Renewable energy

Nuclear

Oil and gas

Utilities

Industry news

Power-technology.com provides industry news on current and future projects in the power industry.

ReNews.biz has global news and articles on renewable energy, including wind, solar, wave and tidal. See also BBC: Renewable Energy in the UK

Nuclear Engineering International has articles and a company A-Z of buyers and suppliers to the industry.

Utility Week gives you news and articles about the UK utilities industry. 

ENDS Report has energy news and analysis.

Oil and Gas Journal provides news and industry updates.

Professional bodies

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates. 

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them and sector skills bodies on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

Find professional bodies outside of the UK on GoinGlobal by selecting ‘Professional and Personal Networking’ on each of the individual country guides.

Professional societies/institutes

Research councils and research centres

Sector skills councils/industry associations

Intergovernmental and not-for-profit organisations

Making contacts

Talking to people in the sector can give you an insight into roles and be useful for networking and speculative applications.

You could start with:

  • NCL Spark – our online mentoring platform, with graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
  • Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice

Social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, is useful for making contacts, finding employers and opportunities. Find out more about how to use social media for your career and subscribe to our Energy industry Twitter list.

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and opportunities to make contacts. Regular events include Employer and sector insights and Recruitment events.

Related sectors

You may also be interested in EnvironmentEngineering or Civil Engineering, Geomatics and Construction.

Or see our other Explore Occupations pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

Many large companies offer graduate training schemes, particularly in the nuclear, oil and gas and utilities industries.

There are opportunities in both technical or commercial roles.

Technical roles

Examples of the type of technical roles found across most sectors of the energy industry include:

You can find more examples of specialist technical roles below.

Commercial roles

Examples of commercial careers include:

You can also find opportunities in policy, law and regulation.

The following job profiles include descriptions of typical duties and entry requirements.

Roles (renewable energy)

Electrical engineer

Wind analyst

Hydrographic surveyor

Roles (nuclear)

Nuclear engineer

Roles (oil and gas)

Drilling engineer

Petroleum engineer

Mining engineer

Minerals surveyor

Mudlogger

Wellsite geologist

Geochemist

Geophysicist

Geoscientist

Engineering geologist

Exploration geologist

Commercial diver

Roles (utilities)

Power/utilities engineer

Electrical engineer

Control and instrumentation engineer

Geoscientist

Hydrologist

Water quality scientist

Skills employers look for

Employers in this sector are looking for skills including:

  • an ability to project manage, prioritise tasks, meet deadlines and work with minimum supervision
  • leadership and the ability to work collaboratively in multidisciplinary teams
  • a logical and methodical approach to problem solving
  • an ability to research, analyse and communicate complex technical data to others
  • flexibility and willingness to work outdoors, offshore, or overseas

Gaining Experience

Finding a job in the energy industry is competitive.

Relevant work experience is invaluable in developing expertise. It helps show motivation and commitment to this area of work. Below are some suggestions for finding relevant experience.

Internships and placements

Many large engineering companies, particularly in the power and oil and gas sectors, advertise summer or year-long placements early in the first semester. 

These are usually aimed at students in and above their second year of study. Applications open early in the autumn and closing dates are usually between November and March.

Some examples of companies that offer placements and/or summer internships include:

Work experience opportunities with smaller companies are not always advertised. You may need to contact the employer with a speculative approach.

You can also search for opportunities on these sites:

  • MyCareer
  • Internships, placements & shadowing - links to sources of vacancies
  • Gradcracker
  • Cogent - advertises placements and internships, including in nuclear and renewables
  • IAESTE - work placements for engineering and science students (England is a non-member country, but it's still possible for students studying in non-member countries to apply)
  • RISE - summer internship program for undergraduate science or engineering students to do research in Germany

Professional bodies and research councils also advertise opportunities. See About for a list of organisations.

For more advice, read TARGETjobs' Engineering work experience: a beginner's guide

Finding companies

Find companies that interest you and get in touch – with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

Other ways to gain experience

All experience is valuable. If you can't find an internship or placement related to energy or utilities, why not try these alternatives: 

  • attend events and network to make contacts and connections. Newcastle University students can access free membership to the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC), which includes access to sustainability events and networking opportunities
  • the Sustainability Team at Newcastle often offer JobsOC internships to current students. They have also offered dissertation placements for students on the MSc Clean Technology course.
  • join a environmentally-focused society at Newcastle, such as Extinction Rebellion Society, and People & Planet Society
  • think about voluntary work - see Volunteering for help with finding opportunities
  • enter a related competition - prizes can often include internships.
  • Sign up for a free online course to further your knowledge, develop new skills and demonstrate an interest in your field, for example, with FutureLearn, EdX or OpenLearn

You can also look at what to do if you can't find an internship over summer. These are specific to engineering, but offer useful advice for most degree disciplines.

 

Finding Jobs

Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and also research employers for speculative applications.

Roles within energy and utilities can be found across a broad range of sectors, including industry, local and national government, academia, NGOS and charity and voluntary organisations.

Several large employers offer structured graduate programmes, typically lasting 1 - 2 years. For example, EDF offer a renewables commercial graduate programme and one in nuclear science and engineering. PwC offer a graduate scheme in Sustainability and Climate Change Consulting

Applications for graduate programmes generally open almost a year ahead, around August or September, with closing dates as early as October and November. You can also find graduate job opportunities all year round, which tend to be more immediate start positions. 

For some roles, such as geochemist and hydrologist, a relevant postgraduate qualification may be preferred. See our Further Study for information on finding, choosing and funding further study.

Smaller companies often don’t advertise opportunities. It’s worth contacting them with a speculative approach - see the section Finding companies below to help you get started.

For sources of vacancies in universities and research institutions, see Research in Academia.

Professional bodies and research councils also advertise graduate positions. See About for a list of organisations.

Vacancy sites (general)

For additional sources of vacancies, particularly in environmental management and sustainability, see our Environment section.

Renewable energy

Nuclear

Oil & Gas

Utilities

Specialist recruitment agencies

  • Allen-York - opportunities in environment, renewable energy, waste and recycling, and energy services
  • Acre - environment and sustainability recruitment service
  • Utility People
  • NES Fircroft - includes vacancies in renewable energy, power, nuclear, water treatment and oil and gas

Finding companies

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Showing your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.