Despite having a reputation for being a dirty and dangerous profession, the oil refinery sector commands some of the highest salaries in the UK. According to a 2012 salary survey from the Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE), those working in the oil and gas production and oil refining sectors reported the highest median annual salaries of £72,000 (+15%) and £63,800 (+12%), respectively. Salaries in this industry vary greatly depending on the role.
According to Oil Rig Job UK, the industry relies heavily on skilled workers with a large number of roles available from operating machinery through to computer system experts and labourers. There are many lucrative, international job opportunities in offshore and onshore sites. Average incomes can vary depending on location and level of expertise.
There are several types of engineering careers within an oil refinery. Chemical and process engineers oversee manufacturing and production. Salaries vary according to experience with an average of £50,000. A typical graduate starting salary is £28,000 while a chartered chemical engineer can earn over £60,000 per annum.
Electrical, instrumentation and control engineers
Electrical, instrumentation and control engineers are involved with the design, installation, maintenance and development of a wide range of energy technologies. Typical starting salaries range from £20,000 to £25,000 rising to £28,000 to £38,000 for experienced or incorporated engineers. A chartered electrical engineer can earn £40,000 to £50,000.
Mechanical and civil engineers
Mechanical engineers tend to be responsible for the plant and equipment function and safety. Starting salaries average at around £22,000 with lead or principle engineers with several years’ experience earning between £35,000 and £50,000. Civil engineers design, construct and maintain processing facilities with the majority of their work being office based. Graduate starting salaries commence at £23,500 while those with over 5 years' experience earning an average of £28,523. The average basic salary of Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) members is £48,588.
Health and safety
Health and safety is of the utmost importance in an oil refinery so there are a variety of positions in health, safety, security and the environment (HSSE). These include managers, team leaders, health specialists and regulatory advisers. Starting salaries are typically £25,000 and can rise to over £100,000 for specialist consultants.
Operations and maintenance
Careers in these divisions are responsible for performing reliability and maintenance analysis of equipment. Support jobs command salaries starting at £22,000 with managerial workers earning in excess of £50,000.