dcsimg

Petroleum Engineer

Job Duties

Petroleum engineers search for oil and natural gas reservoirs across the world. Then, when reservoirs are discovered, they work with geologists and other specialists to identify the geologic formation of the rock surrounding the reservoir, decide on the drilling methods, and oversee the drilling operation. Using computer models and simulations, they design equipment and processes to recover oil and gas in the most efficient and profitable way. They also simulate reservoir performance using different recovery techniques as well as the effects of various drilling operations.

General Engineering

Petroleum engineers use a wide variety of enhanced recovery methods, including injecting water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reservoir to force out more of the oil, and computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect a larger areas of a reservoir to a single well. Even the current most efficient techniques only recover a portion of the oil and gas in a reservoir, petroleum engineers are constantly researching and developing new methods to recover higher percentages and lower costs.

Job Skills

Petroleum engineers must have both mathematical and mechanical aptitudes. Their work often requires high degrees of patience and precision. They need to be able to work effectively as part of a team, and they should have the ability to communicate in writing and orally. These communication skills are vital in the field of petroleum engineering because petroleum engineers interact so often with many non-engineering specialists in a wide variety of fields. Petroleum engineers should be analytical, creative, detail-oriented, and inquisitive.

Income

In 2002, petroleum engineers earned a median annual salary of $83,370. Earnings ranged from the lowest 10%, who earned less than $49,010, and the highest 10%, who earned more than $127,950. According to a 2003 survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, bachelor's degree candidates in petroleum engineering received starting offers averaging $55,987.

Training and Education

A bachelor's degree is required for all entry-level petroleum engineering positions. Most programs include study in the petroleum specialty, as well as courses in mathematics and science. Many programs include a design course, along with a computer or laboratory class. Many colleges offer students the option of earning a 2- or 4-year degree in engineering technology, which include hands-on laboratory courses that prepare students for practical design and production work, as opposed to more theory-based jobs. While graduates of these programs may obtain the same kinds of jobs as graduates with a bachelor's degree in engineering, they are not qualified to register as professional engineers.

Faculty positions and many research and development programs in petroleum engineering require graduate training. Some engineers earn degrees in business administration to enhance their education and give themselves more career options. In fact, many high-level executives in government and business started their careers as engineers. Engineers in the United States are required to be licensed if they offer their services directly to the public. When engineers become licensed, they are designated Professional Engineers (PE). PE requirements include a degree from an engineering program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Entry-level engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers, and may advance to become technical specialists or to supervise a staff of engineers and technicians.

Employment

In 2002, petroleum engineers held about 14,000 jobs. Most jobs were in oil and gas extraction, professional, scientific, and technical services, and petroleum refining. Most petroleum engineers worked in areas where oil and gas are found, including Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Alaska, and California. Many work overseas in petroleum-producing countries.

Job Outlook

Between 2002 and 2012, employment of petroleum engineers is expected to decline. Despite this trend, job opportunities are expected to be favorable because the number of job openings will be greater than the number of graduates in petroleum engineering. Foreign countries may present the best employment opportunities, either from foreign employers or U.S. employers who maintain overseas divisions.

For more information on how to pursue this profession, please see our Computer Training and Technology Education directory.


Petroleum Engineer Training

Refine School Matches
Hide filters
  • SUBJECT Clear All

    See More

  • DEGREE

    See More

  • PROGRAM TYPE

  • START TIME

    LOCATION
    Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.
            Results open in new window

            Searching Searching ...

            Matching School Ads
            BS in Aeronautics
            • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
            • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
            • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
            • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Master of Science in Civil Engineering

            The College of Engineering at Villanova University offers flexible, part-time, online and on campus graduate program options to meet your demanding schedule. Earn your graduate degree while successfully balancing work and family with the College’s award-winning E-Learning program. Decide whether to stream classes live, attend class on campus or view the archived lectures online. With 100+ graduate courses to choose from, you can custom tailor your degree path to align with your interests and advance your career.

            • Online Courses
            Master of Civil Engineering Online
            • Study at a university accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc.
            • Immediately apply what you’re learning to current workplace challenges
            • Experience the convenience and flexibility of online learning—access coursework 24/7
            • Take advantage of four start dates per year
            • Benefit from no required GRE/GMAT 
            • Enjoy small class sizes and students from diverse backgrounds
            • Earn your degree from a respected institution in as few as 18 months
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            Electrical Technician

            About Brightwood College

            Brightwood College offers accelerated programs that combine flexible schedules and professional instruction to create a rewarding learning experience for individuals focused on gaining the skills for specific careers. Brightwood College is owned and operated by Education Corporation of America.

            About Education Corporation of America

            Education Corporation of America's institutions broaden access to postsecondary educational opportunities.

            Electrician
            Milan Institute , Bakersfield
            • Offers career programs in accounting, cosmetology, massage therapy, physical fitness training, and more.
            • Provides hands-on training led by instructors who have relevant, on-the-job experience.
            • Each campus features a public salon and spa for student practice.
            • Campuses are accredited by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET) and Council on Occupational Education (COE).
            • 11 campuses across California, Texas, Nevada and Idaho, as well as 8 additional Milan Institute of Cosmetology campuses.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Financial Aid
            Certificate - Industrial Maintenance Technician
            • Many programs require externships, allowing students to gain real-world experience.
            • Approved A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1984.
            • Offers 22 accelerated, career-focused program options including business administration, medical assisting, and more.
            • Regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
            • 11 campuses across California, with an online division as well.
            Show more [+]
            • Financial Aid
            Industrial Maintenance and Automated Technology
            • A part of the Select Education Group (SEG).
            • Offers several scholarship and financial aid opportunities for students who qualify.
            • California campuses accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and accreditation for the Salem campus from the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET).
            • 4 Campuses located in Clovis, Modesto, and Redding in California, and Salem, Oregon.
            Show more [+]
            • Accredited
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            AutoCAD
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
            • Ensures that service members, their spouses and veterans can maximize their military education benefits.
            • Gives students the option to customize monthly payments to fit their budgets and lifestyle.
            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            Drafting Technology & Design (AS)
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
            • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
            Show more [+]
            • Flexible Scheduling
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits
            • Ranked among the Best Online Bachelor's Programs in 2014 by U.S. News & World Report.
            • Implements a one-to-one teaching model, partnering one student with one faculty member in each course.
            • 100% of faculty members hold doctoral degrees.
            • No physical residency requirements, allowing students to pursue their degree online.
            • Committed to innovation, diversity, excellence, and accountability since its founding in 1996.
            • Offers several programs in business, education, psychology, and more.
            Show more [+]
            • Online Courses
            • Financial Aid
            • Transferable Credits