Organisations in the energy industry range from huge multinational corporations to small organisations developing specialist technology. Many large organisations operate graduate training schemes, most commonly in utilities - the power generation and distributions - and the large oil and gas companies and the nuclear energy sector: most of these firms also have opportunities within their renewable energy businesses. Other segments of the industry are populated by mainly small to medium enterprises (SMEs), for example in renewables technology companies, smart-metering technologies and low-carbon specialists.
Roles for engineers, scientists, data scientists and IT specialists are most abundant, but opportunities also exist in many commercial roles, and in areas such as business management, marketing, HR, policy, regulation and digital services.
Sub-sectors of the energy industry include:
Global and regional energy companies
Many have an international presence and traditionally focus on discovering and extracting oil and gas (upstream business), refining it into commercial products (chemicals) and distributing it to customers (downstream business). Oilfield service companies, such as Schlumberger and Halliburton, provide specialist services to oil companies to aid the exploration and extraction of oil but do not directly extract oil and gas themselves. In the UK much of the oil/gas industry is based around Aberdeen and Great Yarmouth. Many energy companies are now also investing heavily in renewables and may well become leaders in some key technologies, for example, the long-term storage of CO2 in depleted gas reservoirs.
Power generators, distributors and suppliers
Many of the big players in the energy sector use a range of fuel sources (oil, gas, coal, nuclear and renewables) to generate electricity for distribution to homes and industry. These companies have evolved from the energy utilities companies of the past. Most now operate nationally and even internationally. Each part of these critical infrastructures must work in harmony to match power supply to demand, and presents its own unique challenges if we are to move to a zero-carbon system. For example, electricity distribution alone will require a fundamental upgrade of the UK electricity grid at a pace and scale never seen before.
Energy policy and regulation
Opportunities to work on policy and regulation relating to energy exist in national government, local government, think tanks and with regulatory bodies such as Ofgem in the UK.
Energy consultancies and market analysts
Consultancies may focus on the energy sector as one aspect of a broader management consultancy business, or as a boutique firm specialising entirely in energy. Their scope could include advising on investment support for mergers and acquisitions or optimising portfolios, developing and advising on hedging strategies in energy markets, advising government on the costs and benefits of different energy policies, providing market intelligence, modelling/optimising energy demand forecasting, pricing analysis and more. See the Careers Service guide to management consultancy for more information.
Energy services, including sustainability consultancies
Organisations responsible for developing and implementing clean energy initiatives and improving energy efficiencies. Such services could be delivered from an in-house team within a company looking at sustainability across a business or other organisation such as a university, or within local councils advising on fuel poverty, energy efficiency, community energy initiatives or local policy. Our information on sustainability and the environment careers covers many of these and related career areas.
Investment firms specialising in energy
Specialist financial companies dealing with investment, private equity, business and development, buying and selling assets such as wind or solar farms, management of commercial contracts etc specific to the energy industry. See the Careers Service guide to banking and investment for more information
The commodities markets include power, coal, and oil, and trading in carbon and carbon credits. Trading takes place within stand-alone specialist firms and divisions of major energy companies. Activities include managing investment portfolios, market analysis and (financial) product development. See the Careers Service guide to banking and investment for more information on careers in trading.
Large energy companies will often employ teams of legal experts in-house to advise on contracts and compliance with energy and emissions regulations. Law firms may also develop specialisms in energy. See the Career Service information on becoming a solicitor for more information.