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Become A Petroleum Engineer

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Working As A Petroleum Engineer

  • Getting Information
  • Interacting With Computers
  • Making Decisions and Solving Problems
  • Analyzing Data or Information
  • Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Make Decisions

  • $87,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Petroleum Engineer Do

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Duties

Petroleum engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment to extract oil and gas in the most profitable way
  • Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil
  • Develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, and then to recover the oil and gas
  • Evaluate the production of wells through testing and surveys
  • Use computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect a larger area of an oil and gas deposit to a single well
  • Make sure that oil field equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly

Oil and gas deposits, or reservoirs, are located deep in rock formations underground. These reservoirs can only be accessed by drilling wells, either on land or at sea from offshore oil rigs.

Once oil and gas are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geoscientists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation of the rock containing the reservoir. They then determine the drilling methods, design the drilling equipment, implement the drilling plan, and monitor operations.

The best techniques currently being used recover only a portion of the oil and gas in a reservoir, so petroleum engineers also research and develop new ways to recover more of the oil and gas. This helps to lower the cost of drilling and production.

The following are examples of types of petroleum engineers:

Completions engineers decide the best way to finish building wells so that oil or gas will flow up from underground. They oversee work to complete the building of wells, which might involve the use of tubing, hydraulic fracturing, or pressure-control techniques.

Drilling engineers determine the best way to drill oil or gas wells, taking into account a number of factors, including cost. They also ensure that the drilling process is safe, efficient, and minimally disruptive to the environment.

Production engineers take over wells after drilling is completed. They typically monitor wells’ oil and gas production. If wells are not producing as much as expected, production engineers figure out ways to increase the amount being extracted.

Reservoir engineers estimate how much oil or gas can be recovered from underground deposits, known as reservoirs. They study reservoirs’ characteristics and determine which methods will get the most oil or gas out of them. They also monitor operations to ensure that the optimal levels of these resources are being recovered.

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How To Become A Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering. However, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or chemical engineering may also meet employer requirements. Employers also value work experience, so college cooperative-education programs, in which students earn academic credit and job experience, are valuable as well.

Education

Students interested in studying petroleum engineering will benefit from taking high school courses in math, such as algebra, trigonometry, and calculus; and in science, such as biology, chemistry, and physics.

Entry-level petroleum engineering jobs require a bachelor's degree. Bachelor's degree programs include classes, laboratory work, and field studies in areas such as engineering principles, geology, and thermodynamics. Most colleges and universities offer cooperative programs in which students gain practical experience while completing their education.

Some colleges and universities offer 5-year programs in chemical or mechanical engineering that lead to both a bachelor’s degree and a master's degree. Some employers may prefer applicants who have earned a graduate degree. A graduate degree also allows an engineer to work as an instructor at some universities or in research and development.

ABET accredits programs in petroleum engineering.

Important Qualities

Analytical skills. Petroleum engineers must be able to assess complex plans for drilling and anticipate possible flaws or complications before the company commits money and people to a project.

Creativity. Petroleum engineers must come up with new ways to extract oil and gas because each new drill site presents challenges. They must know how to ask the necessary questions to find possible deposits of oil and gas.

Interpersonal skills. Petroleum engineers must work with others on projects that require highly expensive machinery, equipment, and infrastructure. Communicating and working well with others is crucial to protecting and preserving firms’ huge capital investments.

Math skills. Petroleum engineers use the principles of calculus and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.

Problem-solving skills. Identifying problems in drilling plans is critical for petroleum engineers because drilling operations can be costly. They must be careful not to overlook any potential issues and quickly address problems that do occur.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a petroleum engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one’s career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor’s degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

Several states require engineers to take continuing education courses in order to keep their licenses. Most states recognize licensure from other states if the licensing state’s requirements meet or exceed their own licensure requirements.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers offers certification. To be certified, petroleum engineers must be members of the Society, pass an exam, and meet other qualifications.

Advancement

Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal training. As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they move to more difficult projects where they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.

Eventually, petroleum engineers may advance to supervise a team of engineers and technicians. Some become engineering managers or move into other managerial positions. For more information, see the profile on architectural and engineering managers.

Petroleum engineers also may go into sales and use their engineering background to inform the discussion of a product's technical aspects with potential buyers and help in product planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profile on sales engineers.

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Petroleum Engineer Career Paths

Petroleum Engineer
Production Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Project Engineer
Project Engineering Manager
7 Yearsyrs
Production Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Design Engineer
Senior Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Production Engineer Manufacturing Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Director
13 Yearsyrs
Engineer Project Engineer
Senior Project Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
Engineer Design Engineer Project Engineer
Engineering Manager
10 Yearsyrs
Engineer Senior Engineer
Staff Engineer
5 Yearsyrs
Drilling Engineer Consultant Senior Engineer
Senior Engineering Manager
12 Yearsyrs
Drilling Engineer Consultant Founder
Vice President Of Engineering
13 Yearsyrs
Field Engineer Civil Engineer
Senior Civil Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Field Engineer Field Service Technician Senior Technologist
Senior Engineering Technician
8 Yearsyrs
Field Engineer Field Service Technician Application Engineer
Applications Engineering Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Drilling Engineer Project Manager Business Development Director
Commercial Director
10 Yearsyrs
Consultant Senior Engineer
Engineering Supervisor
6 Yearsyrs
Operations Engineer Lead Engineer Engineering Manager
Engineering Operations Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Operations Engineer Service Engineer
Engineering Services Manager
9 Yearsyrs
Operations Engineer Consulting Engineer Contracting Engineer
Contract Project Engineer
10 Yearsyrs
Consulting Engineer Test Engineer Senior Engineering Technician
Reservoir Engineer
5 Yearsyrs
Consulting Engineer Senior Engineering Technician Reservoir Engineer
Senior Production Engineer
7 Yearsyrs
Engineering Technician Civil Engineer Senior Civil Engineer
Project Management Engineer
6 Yearsyrs
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Petroleum Engineer Demographics

Gender

Male

74.6%

Unknown

13.6%

Female

11.8%
Ethnicity

White

52.3%

Hispanic or Latino

15.1%

Asian

13.1%

Black or African American

10.6%

Unknown

8.9%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

38.3%

Arabic

12.8%

French

10.6%

Portuguese

6.4%

Hindi

6.4%

Chinese

4.3%

German

4.3%

Comanche

2.1%

Norwegian

2.1%

Dakota

2.1%

Japanese

2.1%

Mandarin

2.1%

Russian

2.1%

Urdu

2.1%

Bengali

2.1%
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Petroleum Engineer Education

Schools

Texas A&M University

14.5%

Colorado School of Mines

11.1%

University of Texas at Austin

8.8%

Texas Tech University

7.4%

University of Oklahoma

7.1%

Louisiana State University and A&M College

6.0%

University of Houston

5.7%

Missouri University of Science and Technology

4.3%

University of Tulsa

4.3%

Pennsylvania State University

4.3%

Marietta College

4.0%

Montana Tech of the University of Montana

3.4%

West Virginia University

3.4%

University of Southern California

3.1%

University of Wyoming

3.1%

New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

2.6%

Louisiana Tech University

2.3%

University of Alaska Fairbanks

1.7%

Southern Methodist University

1.4%

Prairie View A & M University

1.4%
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Majors

Petroleum Engineering

61.7%

Chemical Engineering

6.9%

Business

6.1%

Mechanical Engineering

4.8%

Engineering

3.5%

Finance

2.7%

Management

1.6%

Geology

1.6%

Environmental Science

1.6%

Civil Engineering

1.1%

Electrical Engineering

1.1%

Engineering And Industrial Management

1.0%

Geological Engineering

1.0%

Mathematics

0.8%

Mining Engineering

0.8%

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians

0.8%

Chemistry

0.8%

Legal Research And Advanced Professional Studies

0.6%

Project Management

0.6%

Computer Science

0.6%
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Degrees

Bachelors

48.5%

Masters

32.7%

Other

9.7%

Doctorate

4.7%

Certificate

1.7%

Associate

1.4%

Diploma

1.3%
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Job type you want
Full Time
Part Time
Internship
Temporary
Average Yearly Salary
$87,000
View Detailed Salary Report
$52,000
Min 10%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$87,000
Median 50%
$146,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Exxon Mobil
Highest Paying City
Anchorage, AK
Highest Paying State
Alaska
Avg Experience Level
3.7 years
How much does a Petroleum Engineer make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Petroleum Engineer in the United States is $87,496 per year or $42 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $52,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $146,000.

Real Petroleum Engineer Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Senior Petroleum Engineer Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. Denver, CO Mar 04, 2015 $244,800
Petroleum Engineer Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. Dallas, TX Feb 10, 2015 $220,000
Petroleum Engineer Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. Dallas, TX Jul 26, 2016 $215,800
Petroleum Engineer Netherland, Sewell & Associates, Inc. Dallas, TX Jul 10, 2015 $215,800
Petroleum Engineer W.D. Von Gonten & Co. Houston, TX Feb 10, 2016 $200,803 -
$265,938
Petroleum Engineer Cudd Pressure Control, Inc. The Woodlands, TX Oct 01, 2015 $192,000
Senior Petroleum Engineer Lekoil Management Corporation Princeton, NJ Aug 18, 2016 $187,000 -
$200,000
Petroleum Engineer Tanami Energy LLC Houston, TX Apr 13, 2016 $180,000
Petroleum Engineer Tanami Energy LLC Houston, TX Feb 05, 2016 $179,000
Petroleum Engineer Tanami Energy LLC Houston, TX Apr 25, 2016 $179,000
Petroleum Engineer Tanami Energy LLC Houston, TX Dec 07, 2016 $179,000
Lead Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Mar 20, 2015 $174,990
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX May 18, 2015 $126,800
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX May 15, 2015 $126,300
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Sep 12, 2015 $125,600
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Bakersfield, CA Feb 27, 2015 $125,500
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Aug 04, 2015 $125,000
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Aug 05, 2015 $125,000
Petroleum Engineer Chevron Corporation Houston, TX Aug 22, 2016 $125,000
Petroleum Engineer III Aramco Services Company Cambridge, MA Aug 31, 2015 $110,400
Petroleum Engineer Mc Offshore Petroleum, LLC Sugar Land, TX Sep 12, 2015 $108,160
Petroleum Engineer Degolyer and MacNaughton Corporation Dallas, TX Sep 30, 2015 $105,518
Petroleum Engineer Pearlsoft Solutions, Inc. Houston, TX Oct 15, 2016 $104,000
Petroleum Engineer The Information Store, Inc. Houston, TX Jan 09, 2016 $103,953
Petroleum ENG Consultant III Baker Hughes Incorporated Tomball, TX Aug 08, 2015 $102,900
Petroleum ENG Consultant III Baker Hughes Incorporated Houston, TX Aug 08, 2015 $102,900

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Top Skills for A Petroleum Engineer

  1. Reservoir Characterization
  2. AFE
  3. Completion Operations
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Phase 1 / Phase 2. Review and Reservoir Characterization .
  • Participated in accident investigations, development of employee safety/incentive programs, training and management programs, safety meetings.
  • Utilized a team-centered approach, working with multiple professionals in coordination of completion operations and well activities.
  • Performed other business development and projects for small consulting firm as requested.
  • Lead Reservoir and Petroleum engineer on green field waterflood development onshore Kazakhstan from initial appraisal through initial production.

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Top 10 Best States for Petroleum Engineers

  1. California
  2. Alaska
  3. Texas
  4. New Jersey
  5. Arizona
  6. Colorado
  7. Indiana
  8. Louisiana
  9. Illinois
  10. District of Columbia
  • (1,581 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (686 jobs)
  • (205 jobs)
  • (155 jobs)
  • (198 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (56 jobs)
  • (294 jobs)
  • (142 jobs)

Top Petroleum Engineer Employers

Jobs From Top Petroleum Engineer Employers

Petroleum Engineer Videos

Occupational Video - Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum Engineers Job Description

CareerBuilder Top Jobs of 2014: Petroleum Engineer

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