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Drilling engineer

A drilling engineer is responsible for the financial and technical operations involved in drilling gas and oil.

Drilling engineers are typically employed by multinational companies who extract and produce oil and gas. They are responsible for assessing and maintaining existing wells, ensuring safety measures are implemented, elements of design and calculating costs of machinery and construction. Some drilling contractors are based in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; a lot of time can be spent working away from home on rigs.

Work activities

  • Managing staff on rigs.
  • Working to strict schedules and deadlines.
  • Supervising drilling and solving technical problems.
  • Enforcing safety and disaster recovery procedures.
  • Measuring operations against budgets.
  • Analysing daily data on productivity.
  • Costing and scheduling drilling operations.

Work conditions

Travel: can be frequent; drilling engineers can be placed on land or offshore platforms or rigs.
Working hours: long shifts can be expected.
Location: placements overseas are common. Drilling engineers sometimes live on oil rigs for weeks at a time.

Entry requirements

An accredited engineering degree, diploma or certificate is necessary. Specialising in certain areas of engineering at master level such as petroleum engineering, civil engineering, mechanical engineering or mineral engineering will shape the direction of career progression within the field. A BSc or MSc in geology and earth sciences is also beneficial and sometimes a necessity.