Careers and Employability Service

I want to work in Energy: Oil, Nuclear & Utilities

Job roles

    Renewable Energy

    Investment in renewable energy is increasing in the UK and many other countries, and there are good opportunities for new graduates in this field. Most of the big employers are oil and gas companies who are diversifying into this area. This sector will grow as it becomes increasingly essential to develop clean ways of generating energy and better, more efficient ways of using it. There is a growing solar power industry in the UK and most power companies are investing in research to develop energy resources for the future.

    The UK is the windiest place in Europe, so is the ideal location for wind energy jobs. Of the 10,800 employees working in the sectors, 56%, are with large-scale onshore wind, 29% in offshore wind, and 8% in small-scale wind with the same proportion in wave and tidal energy.

  • Renewable UK the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Searchable directory of renewable energy employers in the UK
  • specialist green energy recruitment website
  • Sustainable Jobs search engine for jobs and internships in Renewable Energy, Science & Technology, Environmental Internships, Green Management.
  • Areva supplies solutions for power generation with less carbon, both nuclear and renewables
  • Vattenfall one of the biggest wind farm operators in Europe and owners of the Thanet and Kentish Flats offshore windfarms
  • Also see our Environmental Careers Page for Recycling, Carbon management, Energy management, Waste management, Urban regeneration and Sustainability Careers.
  • Fallout: from army life to civvie street The Guardian. Ex-serviceman Joey Callaghan recalls the difficulties of adapting to life as a civvie and why he chose a career in the wind industry
  • Is the sun rising on an African solar revolution?
  • Nuclear Energy

      Nuclear energy jobs are found in power stations, hospitals and defence establishments. Nuclear energy currently accounts for about 15% of our energy production and this is likely to increase as we try to reduce our carbon emissions. We are in the top ten nuclear energy generators in the world.

      Positives of working in the nuclear industry

      • Problem solving is a key skill in the industry as problems can be complex and often without obvious solutions.
      • You need to be comfortable working in multi-disciplinary teams as you may be working with mathematicians, physicists, mechanical engineers, chemical engineers, geologists, environmental scientists and materials scientists.
      • It's a growing industry will in increasing need for many highly skilled scientists and engineers.
      • You will probably have a job for life. Building new power stations, decommissioning old ones and managing the storage of nuclear waste will take many years into the future.

      Negatives of working in the industry

      • The nuclear industry is highly regulated for safety reasons so their is a lot of paperwork and documentation.
      • Projects can have long time scales to to stringent safety requirements, so you need to be patient!
      • Managing risk is another key skill in many jobs.
      • Power stations are often built in out of the way places, so you may have to relocate to get work. So if you like big city life, there will be a smaller range of jobs available to you. Of course, this is a positive if you like rural locations!

    Career Areas

      Reprocessing nuclear waste

      Twenty percent of the nuclear staff in the UK are involved in reprocessing, but this will shrink as Government policy is at present for long term storage of spent waste rather than reprocessing. Policy may well eventually change again as prices of radioactive materials rise due to increasing worldwide demand due to countries such as China and India increasing their number of nuclear power stations, making reprocessing more economical. There are also jobs in the safe transport of nuclear waste. Sellafield reprocesses UK nuclear waste.

      Building new nuclear power stations

      Eight new nuclear power stations are likely to be built in the UK. With EDF looking to build four European Pressurised Reactors. Building new reactors is very highly regulated to ensure safety and the work can be very complex. There are some jobs in design, but most of this is carried out in France and the US. The main jobs for physicists are in operating the plants and in safety monitoring.

      Decommissioning and waste management

      Decommissioning redundant nuclear power stations is a long and complex process and will need to continue for at least a century in the UK. This area currently employs about half the staff working in the Uk nuclear industry You need to have a strong technical background and good problem solving skills, allied with communication skills and an appreciation of safety issues.
      Waste management involves the safe and secure underground storage of spent nuclear fuel and this is managed by the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. This work requires geologists, engineers and physicists.

      Radiation protection

      This is a health and safety role and involves protection of people and the environment from the effects of radiation. There is a strong demand for radiation protection practitioners. As old nuclear reactors are being decommissioned and new ones are being built, radiation protection can offer a job for life. Most entrants have a degree in physics, chemistry or biology. MSc's in radiation protection are run at some universities such as the Surrey UNiversit MSc in Radiation and Environmental Protection.
      There are many opportunities in Health Physics and safety case writing. Many vacancies are not with the electricity generating companies but with related consultances such as Atkins, SERCO, AWE, UKAEA, NUVIA and GE Healthcare.
      Jobs involve radiation protection adviser, health physicist, nuclear medicine and medical physics, research, nuclear engineering, waste management, equipment development and many other areas.



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Last Updated: 09/09/2019