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Mining, energy, oil and gas industry overview

Erin Delaney

Careers Commentator
Fossil fuels may be finite, but innovative technologies and a global marketplace are ensuring opportunities remain open to graduates for the long haul.

Providing essential materials and services to society, this sector expands in symbiosis with population expansions. And now it is changing its shape too, due to the finite nature of fossil fuels and a response to the global imperative to develop renewable energy sources.

The Australian mining, energy, oil and gas sector provides these services to the market, along with natural gas, uranium, nuclear and renewable energies.

It’s an exciting time to be involved in the global energy industry. Following years of unmitigated growth, to sustain output many players across the sector are faced with finding new ways of adapting to changing market needs, environmental pressures, changing legislation and technological advances. Green energy advances include wind, hydro, wave, solar and biomass technologies. Apart from iterative and unstoppable digital innovation, no other industry is changing its state of play so rapidly.

The average entry-level package is $72,500 and the average industry hours are 45 per week, making this the most lucrative industry on a dollar-per-hour basis.

Job market outlook

Finding an opportunity within mining will be challenging, as activity slowly winds down from the Perth rush of the last decade. There are still positions available, but they will be very competitively sought after as news of the salaries have spread far and wide..

Australia’s oil reserves are drying up, and along with it opportunities, but there are still unexplored regions of the country that may turn this sinking ship around.

Gas, however, is a lot easier to slip into. Australia’s gas market is heating up very quickly, with production growing exponentially year on year. This is an area of the market that is set to bubble with opportunities.

Greenfield energy is where some of the most exciting opportunities are at, with the world stage set to fund renewable energy technologies as quickly as they can be developed. If you’re an innovative thinker or technical expert, the world is your (quickly grilling) oyster.

How to get hired

Salaries in this sector are consistently high, making this one attractive — and therefore, highly competitive — industry to get into.

Traditionally, grads came from a mining, engineering, maths or IT background. Now, as the industry evolves into its future state, employers are seeking grads with a diverse array of degrees — anything from business to science, archaeology, landscape architecture, surveying and, an increasingly important degree, communications.

Graduates wanting to work in exploration and production will need to be prepared to either travel or live in remote locations.

Employers have an increased focus on hiring well-rounded grads, so those who can demonstrate good communication, teamwork and in-depth awareness of the company and the industry will go further than employees who only know about safety protocols.

“Good grades are important, but they will also be looking for diverse experiences such as volunteering on a committee, playing sport, organising charity events or travelling,” said a recent graduate at BP, Melbourne.

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Key skills you need

Commitment to safety

Your inherent commitment to safety is likely to be tested while going through a recruitment process, along with your ability to adapt to the company’s own individual safety protocols. Working in this industry can have serious risks to both person and property.


Tying into a commitment to safety, communication skills are paramount for keeping yourself and other members of your team safe. They’re also invaluable for those wanting to move into the green-energy space particularly, as many technologies are new or undergoing rapid development, and being able to communicate their value proposition is integral to getting them off the ground.

Technical ability

There’s no getting round it, this industry is dominated by people of varying kinds of technical ability, and being able to understand difficult concepts, pull together a project plan or calculate a difficult angle are invaluable to employers needing to get complex work done quickly.

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