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Drilling engineer

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Summary of occupation

Drilling engineers plan and organise all the operations that take place in the drilling of oil and gas wells. They draw up plans for drilling operations, taking account of costs and deadlines. They specify the drilling program and plan the wells, supervise the drilling crew and are responsible for safety management and ensuring that an operation follows all environmental regulations. They are involved from the initial stages of well development, through to the testing and operations phases, until the completion and abandonment of an oil and gas deposit.

ANZSCO description: Drilling engineers plan and organise all the operations that take place in the drilling of oil and gas wells.
Alternative names: Offshore Engineer
Specialisations: Rotating Equipment Engineer
Job prospects: Average
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Knowledge, skills and attributes

A drilling engineer needs:

  • an interest in the oil and gas industry
  • creativity and lateral-thinking skills
  • excellent problem-solving skills
  • a high level of analytical and conceptualisation skills
  • a logical and methodical approach to their work
  • strong oral and written communication skills.
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Working conditions

Drilling engineers usually work on-site on oil and gas rigs, either on/ offshore. These facilities are usually extremely isolated and weather conditions at sea may be harsh. They usually work regular hours, but will often work for extended periods at a time, before taking leave to return home. On-site conditions may be cramped and rig workers usually live and work in close proximity to other staff for extended periods.

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Salary details

Graduate drilling engineers can expect to earn between $1 442 and $1 923 per week ($75 000 and $100 000 per year), depending on the organisation they work for. With experience their earning potential may increase substantially. 

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Tools and technologies

Drilling engineers use computer-aided design (CAD) software, as well as word processing, data management and mapping software. They also use other office equipment such as phones, faxes and photocopiers. They need to have a good understanding of the equipment used on rigging sites.

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Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a drilling engineer you usually need to complete a bachelor of science, or a bachelor of engineering, majoring in oil and gas or petroleum engineering.

Most universities in Western Australia offer relevant courses. Contact the universities you are interested in for more information.

Related courses

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Apprenticeships and traineeships

As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.

If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.

If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.

Related apprenticeships

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Recognition of prior learning

If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.

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