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Jonathan Reith graduated from our 7 week Premium ROV course in December 2012. Originally from Portlethen, near Aberdeen, 22 year old Jonathan has since secured work as an ROV Pilot Technician Trainee and is working and living in Singapore. In this blog post, Jonathan gives us an insight to his background and tells us how he progressed into his ROV role within the exciting subsea sector.
“I was brought up in Aberdeen, where I lived in Portlethen just outside the city. I went to Portlethen Academy followed by Aberdeen College and Robert Gordon’s University where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Sport & Exercise Science. Not long after this though I had a change of direction in terms of where I wanted to see my career go; I wanted to get involved in the subsea sector. Therefore I began researching what my options were and soon became a student at The Underwater Centre.’
What attracted you to the subsea sector?
‘ROVs really got me interested in the sector. Ever since I first started learning about them the more excited I was to begin working with them in my career. The idea of piloting a vehicle underwater as a job was extremely appealing. Since the industry was completely new to me many challenges existed; the main ones included whether I would cope with being away from home for so long, could I learn new skills necessary for the job and could I see myself working in this industry for 40+ years.
‘Now that I’m in the industry I really like the places it has taken me to. For example I now live in Singapore which is great and very different to Aberdeen! So far my job has taken me to places like Thailand and Malaysia as well, where the weather is beautiful, as you can imagine. The most enjoyable part of the job has to be the piloting for sure: it requires skill, concentration and patience but I can’t think of many better jobs out there! Although, long trips offshore can be hard, especially when I am a long way from home. I do miss my family and friends which is the down side but I still wouldn’t change anything.’
Can you sum up a typical day as an ROV Pilot Technician Trainee?
‘Each day is different. When I began I was working in the workshop in Singapore, learning about the different ROV systems and enhancing my mechanical skills by maintaining each vehicle. After a couple months of maintenance in the workshop I began my offshore experiences. Offshore days vary, depending on the job, but most involve some kind of maintenance as well as flying the ROVs.
‘The training I received at the Centre was extremely helpful in terms of understanding the ROVs and how they work. The mixture of classroom learning and practical classes helped me adjust to life when I began my career as it gave me the required knowledge to be more prepared than others starting at the same time as me at my company. The job I have just now is my first since leaving the Centre and I have no plans to leave anytime soon!’
So why did you choose to train at The Underwater Centre?
‘I found out about the Centre through research and my father – he is also involved in the oil & gas industry and has many years of experience. It was a great training centre with unique facilities and some excellent instructors. I learnt a lot in my time there and made some good connections with classmates who I still keep in touch with. The best part of the Centre has to be down at the pier where flying the ROVs takes place: it provides a real life experience and sets you up well for the work offshore. There are many obstacles at the bottom of the loch to train the students well under guidance by the instructors.’
What would you say to someone thinking of training as an ROV pilot technician?
‘The financial benefits alone are worth the pursuit although it is hard to break into the industry for the first time. Therefore I warn people they may need to be patient but there are some exciting subsea jobs. Some may have to work harder than others depending on your background.
‘On the ROV side of things the money you can potentially earn is unbelievable. It takes time to work your way up the ladder but I can guarantee you the money is better than a lot of other jobs out there. Getting your first job is extremely hard. It takes time and sometimes a bit of luck to get there but once you are in the door you will never look back. It depends on your background really, everyone’s is different; most companies look for a background in either hydraulics or electrical.’
What’s in the future for you now?
‘I have not put a timescale on my planned career progression, I prefer to simply keep on working and build up my experience each day. There is a bright future in this industry for me as long as I keep working hard and learn from those around me as I am fortunate to be working with some of the best in the industry.”