The Benefits of Offshore Working
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Browsing through offshore job vacancies is an eye-opening experience, whether they be in the oil & gas industry, scientific research or the renewable sector (specifically wind). The organisations are household names, some of the largest in the world. Pay and benefits are very attractive and there are many different roles, depending on skills and experience.
Working offshore is not for everyone, however. Many roles involve shift patterns and working away from home for long periods (although with similar periods back home, too). Here we explain the benefits of working offshore, the types of jobs that are available, lifestyle and typical salaries.
Flexibility is a major benefit of working offshore. Rather than driving to the same factory every day for years, or sitting at the same desk, you will have the opportunity to work in different environments, with different cultures. You can keep developing your skills and experience, giving you access to interesting and challenging jobs.
There are some office-based roles, but many jobs involve a flexible working pattern. You might work offshore for 2 weeks and return home for 2 weeks, giving you the chance to spend time with your family, relax at home or work on your hobbies. Holidays will be easier to afford and easier to schedule.
Most engineering jobs involve working with the latest technology. In a junior role, you will get the chance to work at the leading edge, gaining experience and learning at first hand how the energy business is changing and innovating. You will extend your CV, demonstrating your ability to take on a challenge, develop your interpersonal skills and prove your resilience.
In a senior engineering role, you will be involved in the design, construction or operation of new facilities, taking responsibility and putting your own stamp on their safety and effectiveness.
However offshore working is not just engineering; there is a diverse range of jobs supporting the operation of the unit, such as kitchen, restaurant and housekeeping staff. Health and fitness is also a priority so there are jobs looking after the wellbeing of workers.
If you like to travel and experience different cultures, offshore working is an ideal career. It’s not just about North Sea Oil and Gas, you could work anywhere in the world, from the Gulf of Mexico to the Middle East.
Your working day will be quite different from a conventional 9 to 5 role. Offshore facilities operate 24×7 so most jobs are based on a shift pattern with 12 hours on and 12 hours off. This pattern will repeat, typically, for 2-4 weeks, followed by a return to shore for the same period.
During your time off shift, there will be good relaxation and recreational facilities. These differ depending on the size of the installation; a typical production platform will house between 100-200 men and women, with good living conditions.
Food and drink is always provided and available 24×7 along with housekeeping and laundry services. Recreational facilities will usually include a gym, sauna and games room; larger platforms may provide a cinema and internet café.
Due to the safety risk, alcohol is not permitted on any offshore facility and there is drug testing before and during each assignment. There is usually an indoor shack provided for smokers although this is not a legal entitlement.
Offshore work can be dangerous, so safety is paramount. Many people are employed specifically to ensure that the design and operation of the platform allows staff to work safely, from safety engineers to fire prevention officers. There are strict rules on safety, such as the use of e-cigarettes and all workers are given mandatory safety training in dos and don’ts and emergency procedures.
Pay rates for offshore jobs are very good:
- An entry level role such as a roustabout will start at around £20k, rising to around £30k with experience
- A driller, working on a drilling platform or oil rig will earn from £30k-50k depending on their level of experience
- A pipeline engineer, designing and installing pipes will typically earn around £50k with senior roles earning around £70k
- A scientist, such as a geologist can earn from £70k-120k
Tax and NI
The requirement to pay UK tax and NI depends mainly on whether you are resident in the UK for tax purposes.
- UK residents, working in the UK sector of the Continental Shelf, will pay UK tax and National Insurance as normal
- UK residents working abroad will pay UK tax, reporting this as foreign income but may be able to claim tax relief if this income has already been taxed in the foreign country
- Non-residents, or people with a permanent home outside the UK will not have to pay UK tax
Working offshore offers flexibility to someone starting out in their career, or anyone who is fed up with the same daily routine. There are opportunities for travel, for building skills and experience in the latest technology and for earning good rates of pay.
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