Electricians, colloquially known as “sparky” play a very significant role in the different industries in Australia. According to government statistics, electrical professionals enjoy moderate future growth and a lower unemployment rate, making it one of the most in-demand jobs in the country, and anywhere in the world.
Why choose to be a sparky? Mainly because businesses are always looking to hire electricians all year round. Electrical services, which include the installation, maintenance, repair, and servicing of electrical systems, can benefit residential, commercial, and industrial settings. This broad range of what electricians can do makes it a highly competitive job, and it’s going to have an even higher demand as trade industries keep growing year after year.
Various industries such as oil and gas are just some of the significant trades that hire electricians regularly. Electrical jobs from these sectors include different duties and responsibilities. Some of the requirements include nationally recognised certifications and valid licences that you need to get a hold of before you can start working in these industries. If you are looking into getting into the oil and gas industry, here is a comprehensive guide on how you can be an industrial electrician and become successful in the field.
Performing Electrical Work in the Oil and Gas Sector
One of the most lucrative options for electricians is getting a job in the oil and gas industry in Australia. Workers in the oil rig are expected to have basic knowledge about electrical functions involved in the industry, such as in heavy-duty drilling equipment, as well as in distribution and transmission lines.
Before you become a gas and oil rig sparky, this is some useful information to help you get prepared for working in this sector, especially in the offshore setting.
What does a rig electrician do?
Electricians in the oil and gas sector perform maintenance and troubleshooting for on-site electrical systems, specifically the rig’s engines and motors. They also handle issues and maintain distribution and transmission lines and equipment. The electrician is expected to look after all electrical and Instrumentation matters related to the rig. Gone are the days when Intros said that’s not my job get a sparky to do it or vice versa. A sparky is expected to do Instrumentation, Electrical, Hazardous Areas, HV switching program, PLC-HMI SCADA Maintenance, etc… This profession is not for the faint-hearted or should I say it requires a very high level of intellect and is not for someone who is after a cruisy role. Although you won’t be doing many laborious jobs a Rig Electrician must be a very switched-on person with an attitude to follow strict safety protocols and always be open to learning new skills to adapt to the changing technologies
In the oil and gas sector, electrical tradesmen are frequently sent offshore to carry out technical duties near the drilling equipment. Safety is a primary issue on the job site and hence rig electricians must be physically fit, extremely skilled, and trained to handle the demanding and stressful work environment.
Oil and gas electricians in Australia typically work 12-hour shifts and an average of 45 hours of work per week. Since the workplace is compact and modular in format, rig electricians have to perform their duties on limited movement and footing.
Duties and Responsibilities of an oil and gas electrician
- Perform maintenance-related processes and apply proper engineering practices while ensuring safety and compliance with the company’s regulations
- Coordinate with and update the company maintenance supervisor about maintenance and repair procedures and a disaster recovery plan to combat risks of equipment breakdowns
- Integrate company and client requirements in carrying out preventative maintenance to the equipment and electrical systems
- Perform an inventory check of tools, parts, and consumables related to equipment maintenance
- Supply significant data to obtain updated drawings and sketches of the equipment layouts
- Report any misuse of equipment and electrical systems to the maintenance supervisor
- Wear safety gear and equipment in compliance with company policies at all times
- Implement routine checking of all rig equipment, tools, and instruments
How do you qualify as an oil and gas industrial electrician?
Before you become a full-fledged rig sparky, you must possess the necessary qualifications as per the stipulations of the Australian government. Firstly, any electrical job in the country necessitates a valid Unrestricted Electrical licence. To obtain your licence, you must first earn relevant training and knowledge. You may enrol in UEE22020 Certificate II in Electrotechnology course, which touches the foundation, such as safety skills in the discipline.
You must also complete a four-year apprenticeship, wherein you will learn from a supervised work environment and acquire the skills needed in the field. Aside from this, you should receive structured training via UEE30820 Certificate III in Electrotechnology.
Once you obtain your Unrestricted Electrician’s Licence, you have to undergo further structured education and safety training since the oil and gas sector requires a highly specialized skill set. Safety training such as BOSIET, HUET and FOET are mandated for electricians looking for an offshore job in the rig industry.
You should possess the Electrical Equipment in Hazardous Area (EEHA) qualification, namely Certificate IV in Hazardous Areas Electrical (UEE42620). The course covers installation testing and commissioning of instrumentation and electrical equipment. It applies to gas detectors and monitors, light fittings, level, density, pressure, flow, and temperature rating for hazardous areas.
Most companies prefer electricians with nationally recognised qualifications such as UEE40420 Certificate IV in Electrical Instrumentation and UEE31220 Certificate III in Instrumentation and Control to handle on-site instrumentation.
These courses are available at Ausinet, and you will be able to get your qualifications in a flexible and fast-tracked manner.
Upskilling as an electrician in the oil and gas industry is necessary to stay competitive since you are competing with other professionals who have undergone relevant training and experience in the field.
Major Oil & Gas companies in Australia
If you have all the keys in hand to land a job in the oil and gas industry, you only need to get your resume ready and reach out to companies who could be interested in your profile. Here is a list of the most well-known Oil and Gas companies in Australia :
- Arrow Energy
- Chevron Australia
- Shell Australia
- BHP Billiton
Being an industrial electrician is a lucrative career that you can aim for as long as you have the experience and knowledge of what the work entails. To ensure that your chances of getting hired in the oil and gas industry are high, you have to possess an excellent working attitude and specialized skills relevant to the field. Also, you should upskill by acquiring full qualifications for the courses mentioned such as UEE42620, UEE40420, and UEE31220 to let employers know that you are a serious applicant willing to obtain the skills required for such a specialised role.
Last reviewed date: 15/11/2019