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What is offshore life really like?

Matthew Bowles our consultant managing the role
Published on 17 July 2018

For those working in offshore wind, the realities of daily life can differ significantly from those of someone working a 9-5 desk job. As the European offshore wind industry continues to boom – with a record 3,148 MW net additional installed capacity and 560 new offshore wind turbines in 2017 alone – more projects are becoming available for contractors to sink their teeth into. But what is it really like to work – and live – offshore?

Transport and accommodation

Offshore professionals typically must take a helicopter flight in and out of wind farm sites, with survival and emergency training provided before taking off. The farms can be anywhere from 4km off the coast – which is typical of Finland farms – to more than 100km away, as is the case for German wind turbine Global Tech 1. With turbines standing hundreds of feet tall – the standard G.E. 1.5-megawatt model has a 212-ft tower and 116-ft blades – it goes without saying that people working in this industry need to be comfortable with heights. Boats are often used for transport to and from the turbines themselves, which means offshore workers can be reliant on wind, tide, swell and current conditions in order to safely reach work every day.

Accommodation is usually onboard the vessel or flotel, with cabin-like conditions typically featuring televisions, internet access and phone connections. There are often fitness and recreation centres on board, with contractors having access to everything from gym equipment and pool tables through to tablets and computers. Rooms can be shared depending on the project.

Hours of work

Rotational shift patterns are standard for many technicians and other contractors working offshore, with one study suggesting the average number of contractually agreed working hours sits at just over 40 per week, with overtime commonplace amongst the offshore industry. Contracts can last months at a time and can be extended depending on the project duration.

Benefits of offshore work

While spending weeks – or months – away from home can be demanding for some, offshore workers can enjoy longer periods off work in between shifts (as shift patterns typically operate on a set number of days on site, then a similar number off – for example, two weeks on, two weeks off). Workers may also take extended periods of time off between contracts, giving them more time to spend with friends and family, travel or pursue other interests.

Competitive rates of pay also appeal to offshore workers, who generally pay nothing for food or accommodation when they’re offshore. This makes it an economically attractive option for many. The challenging nature of offshore work also appeals to many in the industry, as does the ability to work on large-scale projects with leading technologies and industry experts. Renewable energy is particularly appealing for many offshore workers, thanks to its contribution to a cleaner, greener environment.

Job opportunities

Many different work opportunities could take you offshore, whether that’s as a driller or manager on an oil rig or a client representative, engineer or site manager on an offshore farm. There is an array of mandatory qualifications required for offshore workers, such as Sea Survival and Working at Heights courses, medical certificates and technical qualifications specific to your role, but those who have the right experience and certifications will find a variety of interesting opportunities all over the world.

The renewables industry is expected to grow by 40% globally by 2020, with wind energy becoming increasingly prominent in the UK and Europe as well as India, China and the USA, meaning a career in this sector could give you the opportunity to travel all over the world. However, not all jobs in offshore wind require workers to be based offshore. Some positions – such as substation manager, logistics manager and document controllers – are based at onshore offices.

Just take Ørsted's $57 bn investment plan as an example of the sheer amount of money that is being injected into the industry, creating more jobs for renewable energy employees.

Let Quanta help you find your next offshore wind job

At Quanta, we have a variety of offshore jobs available all over the world. We’re experts in candidate care and go the extra mile to ensure you’re comfortable in your new contract. Talk to us to find out how we can help.