Case Study: Marine/Offshore Engineer - Caroline

What do you do?

My name is Caroline and I work as a marine/offshore engineer and a marine warranty surveyor.

I review and approve project documentation including calculations and procedures for marine operations. My reviews are based on the industry guidelines. I essentially work on transportation and installation of items at sea, such as oil platforms, pipelines, wind farms, etc.

I then go on-site to issue certificates of approval, before the start of operations to provide insurance to offshore companies.

What is your background?

A friend of mine was doing this job, and I was attracted to it since it was different from what I was supposed to do with my degree.

I did my last internship of engineering school in a company providing technical services for the oil and gas industry, which hired me at the end of it.

I went to an engineering school in the south of France and in September 2009 got a masters degree in marine engineering, specialising in offshore activities.

I have been a marine/offshore engineer and marine warranty surveyor since September 2009. This is my first employment in this industry.

What characteristics do you need to be successful in your job?

Firstly, you need to believe in yourself since this job is usually reserved to senior engineers. You often need to confront people who have 20 years of experience in this field.

You need a great analytical and multi-purpose ability, since you work on several projects at the same time; projects which do not necessarily use the same way of analysis on their documentation.

You need to be sociable as well; you meet and work with different people all the time.

You also need to know how to work under pressure since some documentation are sometimes sent at the last minute, and the client is waiting for your approval to do the operation.

What other jobs could you do using the skills from this job?

I could work on various design software to produce calculation and design documentation.

With more experience, I could be a project manager, too.

What changes will there be in the future?

Warranty services will be more and more involved in offshore projects, since projects look for more and more safety in the job.

I can't see too many technological advances affecting the type of work that I do, as underwriters will still need to receive insurance from warranty people.

We will, however, still need to keep our skills updated to be able to technically review documentations.

What are the biggest challenges in your job?

A challenging aspect of my job is to work in an area that is dominated by men. I am young and a woman.

Another challenging aspect is trying to be aware of all the different aspects that make up my job and methods of working. You have to be a very versatile person.

Are there many opportunities to enter this career?

I think opportunities for this area of work are increasing.

What do you like about your job?

This job allows me to travel to nice places. I can be sent to Africa, Europe or even Australia.

What do you dislike about your job?

You can be sent for a marine/offshore operation with only 2 or 3 days notice. You can also be asked to work at weekends. Sometimes, you can be asked to work quickly and under pressure, for urgent reviews.

What are your ambitions?

My ambitions are to be a project manager of a project as a warranty surveyor, and to be involved more in management than in engineering reviews.

What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?

Attending sub-sea and offshore courses at university could be very helpful to enter this sort of career.

This is very interesting for a first job. It's a hard one, but it allows you to learn a lot every day.

A day in the life

Basically, there are three kinds of working days:

  • At the office: 8 hours of document review - this can be calculations, design or procedure checks, writing technical review notes filled with our comments based on the reviews to send to the client. Then, writing reports when back from attendance, to be sent to the client.
  • On-site, onshore: Some days are designated to travel, meeting with the client, attendance usually at ports checking procedures are respected on-site, making some inspections on-board, attending kick-off meetings, signing certificate of approval if surveyor is happy with everything before starting the operation, spending the day on the vessel, back to hotel for the night. I would usually be 2 or 3 days in attendance.
  • On-site, offshore: At least a week of attendance, but can be up to 3 weeks. Attending operations, so I can be working for 15 hours in a row, or working at night.

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