Petroleum engineers help find oil and gas for the country's energy needs. They design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth's surface. They also find new ways, as opposed to old ones, in the extraction process. Most of the petroleum engineers work for oil companies, while others work at universities or research facilities.

Their key responsibilities include prospecting sites and making recommendations based on cost, effort, and feasibility of retrieving the product from where it was discovered. Another task is to design the drilling, pumping, prospecting, and storage equipment that gets the job done.

These people often work in research and development facilities or colleges, universities, and trade schools. Educational requirements include a bachelor's degree in engineering, preferably petroleum engineering. However, a degree in mechanical or chemical engineering may suffice as well.

The average annual salary for holding this position is $106,452 a year. The career is likely to grow 3% in the years to come.

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.

Learn more about what a Petroleum Engineer does

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.

Petroleum Engineer Career Paths

Average Salary for a Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum Engineers in America make an average salary of $99,505 per year or $48 per hour. The top 10 percent makes over $150,000 per year, while the bottom 10 percent under $65,000 per year.
Average Petroleum Engineer Salary
$99,505 Yearly
$47.84 hourly
10 %
90 %

What Am I Worth?


Petroleum Engineer Education

Petroleum Engineer Majors

Petroleum Engineer Degrees


78.1 %


14.8 %


2.4 %

Top Colleges for Petroleum Engineers

1. Stanford University

Stanford, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

2. University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA • Private

In-State Tuition

3. University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

4. Colorado School of Mines

Golden, CO • Private

In-State Tuition

5. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

Socorro, NM • Private

In-State Tuition

6. Texas A&M University

College Station, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

7. University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

8. University of Houston

Houston, TX • Private

In-State Tuition

9. Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA • Private

In-State Tuition

10. University of Utah

Salt Lake City, UT • Private

In-State Tuition

Top Skills For a Petroleum Engineer

The skills section on your resume can be almost as important as the experience section, so you want it to be an accurate portrayal of what you can do. Luckily, we've found all of the skills you'll need so even if you don't have these skills yet, you know what you need to work on. Out of all the resumes we looked through, 15.4% of petroleum engineers listed reservoir characterization on their resume, but soft skills such as analytical skills and creativity are important as well.

Choose From 10+ Customizable Petroleum Engineer Resume templates

Zippia allows you to choose from different easy-to-use Petroleum Engineer templates, and provides you with expert advice. Using the templates, you can rest assured that the structure and format of your Petroleum Engineer resume is top notch. Choose a template with the colors, fonts & text sizes that are appropriate for your industry.

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Petroleum Engineer Demographics

Petroleum Engineer Gender Distribution


After extensive research and analysis, Zippia's data science team found that:

  • Among petroleum engineers, 11.9% of them are women, while 88.1% are men.

  • The most common race/ethnicity among petroleum engineers is White, which makes up 68.5% of all petroleum engineers.

  • The most common foreign language among petroleum engineers is Spanish at 38.3%.

Online Courses For Petroleum Engineer That You May Like

Advertising Disclosure  
Introduction to Petroleum Engineering

In this course, you will learn such concepts as oil and gas production, reservoir energy and forces, petroleum deposit drainage, development systems, well operation techniques and much more. Each participant in the course will develop an understanding of field life cycle and interdisciplinary approach to petroleum field development and operation. Throughout the course, we will address the following topical areas: History of oil and gas application, international petroleum reserves. Fundamentals...

Product Development & Systems Engineering

The complete Product Development & Systems Engineering course! Earn 25 contact hours AND prepare to take the INCOSE Exam...

Petroleum Refining - Complete Guide to Products & Processes

Learn the most relevant Petroleum Refining Operations such as Crackers, Reformers, Alkylation for Oil & Gas...

Show More Petroleum Engineer Courses
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Best States For a Petroleum Engineer

Some places are better than others when it comes to starting a career as a petroleum engineer. The best states for people in this position are Nevada, Rhode Island, Delaware, and New Hampshire. Petroleum engineers make the most in Nevada with an average salary of $127,888. Whereas in Rhode Island and Delaware, they would average $120,843 and $120,081, respectively. While petroleum engineers would only make an average of $118,998 in New Hampshire, you would still make more there than in the rest of the country. We determined these as the best states based on job availability and pay. By finding the median salary, cost of living, and using the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Location Quotient, we narrowed down our list of states to these four.

1. Delaware

Total Petroleum Engineer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

2. Nevada

Total Petroleum Engineer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:

3. District of Columbia

Total Petroleum Engineer Jobs:
Highest 10% Earn:
Location Quotient:
Full List Of Best States For Petroleum Engineers

How Do Petroleum Engineer Rate Their Jobs?

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Im a petroleum engineer June 2020


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What do you like the most about working as Petroleum Engineer?

Basically its my passion ,and most likely work of petroleum engineers is well controlling Show More

What do you NOT like?

Over shift Show More

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Top Petroleum Engineer Employers

Most Common Employers For Petroleum Engineer

Rank  Company  Average Salary  Hourly Rate  Job Openings  
3Exxon Mobil$144,609$69.5221
6Marathon Oil$136,603$65.679
7Aera Energy$129,783$62.406
9Baker Hughes$120,324$57.8537

Petroleum Engineer Videos

Becoming a Petroleum Engineer FAQs

What degree do you need to be a petroleum engineer?

You need a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering to be a petroleum engineer. Bachelor's degrees in other forms of engineering are also sometimes acceptable, such as mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and chemical engineering.

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