Did you know that subsea engineering jobs are the fourth-highest paid positions in the oil and gas industry, according to a 2012 study by industry website rigzone.com?
Subsea engineering is arguably one of the most important yet technically difficult aspects of the offshore petroleum industry. A subsea specialization trains offshore engineering professionals to design equipment, tools and infrastructure used in offshore petroleum production.
What Are the Challenges to Subsea Engineering?
The underwater production environment presents unique challenges to subsea engineers, particularly deepwater operations where temperature, pressure and corrosion test the durability of submerged equipment and tools.
Most subsea engineering operations depend on automation and remote procedures to construct and repair components beneath the surface of the water. Subsea engineers design, implement and maintain the structures, tools and equipment used in the underwater component of offshore gas and oil production.
How Can I Become a Subsea Engineer?
If you’re interested in exploring a career as a subsea engineer, you’ll need to hold at least a Bachelor's degree in engineering, although employers prefer a higher graduate degree. A degree in ocean, mechanical or petroleum engineering is what employers are specifically after.
Just one university in the United States, the University of Houston in Texas, offers a subsea engineering graduate degree program. This course focuses on the practices and basic sciences involved in underwater engineering. Courses include convection pipeline and riser design, heat transfer, applied mathematics and flow assurance. Other topics include subsea materials, corrosion, systems and control. Students also need to do a major design project.
Another graduate option at the same university is a Master's degree in ocean engineering. This program teaches students how to solve engineering problems associated with an ocean environment. The work includes offshore structures, oil rigs and underwater robotics. Students also learn how to develop the ways that materials can withstand wave forces and prevent corrosion.