Drilling engineer

What they do

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.

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.

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.

How do I become one?

Education and training

To become a drilling engineer you usually need to study a degree in engineering, majoring in petroleum, chemical or mechanical engineering.

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

If you already hold an engineering degree in another field, both Curtin University and Edith Cowan University offer relevant postgraduate qualifications for those wishing to transition into petroleum engineering.