Petroleum Engineers: Salary, career path, job outlook, education and more

Education Required
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.
Job Outlook
The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026: 15% (Much faster than average)
(The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.)
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 on which they have greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Licenses/Certifications
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
Median pay: How much do Petroleum Engineers make?
$128,230 Annual Salary
$61.65 per hour

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.

What do Petroleum Engineers do?

Petroleum engineers typically do the following:

  • Design equipment to extract oil and gas from onshore and offshore reserves deep underground
  • Develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, and then to recover the oil and gas
  • Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil or gas
  • Make sure that oilfield equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly
  • Evaluate the production of wells through surveys, testing, and analysis

Oil and gas deposits, or reservoirs, are located deep in rock formations underground. These reservoirs can be accessed only 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 additional recovery helps to lower the cost of drilling and production.

The following are examples of types of petroleum engineers:

Careers for Petroleum Engineers

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