Careers in Petroleum Engineering

The demand for safe, affordable, clean energy has never been greater. And you can help meet this need. If you want to make a difference in the world—and if you are looking for challenge, adventure, choices, and excellent financial rewards—consider a career in petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers make the world run. They search the far corners of the Earth and the world’s oceans to find and produce oil and gas supplies. They keep energy flowing to light and heat our homes. They fuel our transportation systems and keep our industries operating. They spark the creation of thousands of products, from medicines and plastics to textiles and cosmetics. And they do all these things with the highest regard for protecting the environment. If you want to make a difference in the world, choose a career in petroleum engineering.

Enter a World of Choices and Challenges

Petroleum engineering isn’t just one job. It is many different specialties, each with its own unique challenges and rewards. You can be a drilling engineer, working with geologists and contractors in designing and supervising drilling operations, many of which are multimillion-dollar ventures. You can work as a production engineer, developing processes and equipment to optimize oil and gas production. Or you can become a reservoir engineer and help determine ideal recovery processes, estimate the number of wells that can be economically drilled, and simulate future performance using sophisticated computer models. You can be a manager, an entrepreneur, economist, or environmental/safety specialist. Petroleum engineers may also find rewarding opportunities in such fields as teaching, consulting, and government service. Groundwater hydrology, environmental engineering, and safety engineering are other specialties within the petroleum industry. But your choices don’t stop there.

Make the World Your Marketplace

Explore the high seas, remote jungles, vast deserts, and mountain ranges, developing oil and gas reserves where no one has drilled before. Help boost the energy production (and perhaps the entire economy) of countries around the globe. Live and work in many countries. Understand other cultures. As a petroleum engineer, travel—and the opportunity to become a citizen of the world—can be a part of your career adventure.

Choose Your Work Environment

Where you work and the type of company you join are up to you. Options include working outdoors at a field location, indoors with a computer—or both. You can develop your talents within a multinational corporation or a small company, or become an independent operator and head your own firm. Your future can be what you want it to be.

Enjoy Personal and Financial Rewards

As a petroleum engineer, you will contribute to meeting the energy needs while safeguarding the environment. And you will be well compensated for your efforts. Entry-level salaries for college graduates are among the highest of any field. So are long-term financial rewards. Equally satisfying, petroleum engineers gain responsibility faster and supervise important projects sooner than those in other engineering fields. The oil and gas industry offers higher average salaries than all other industries. Salaries for various positions vary by skills needed for the job, experience, and training. Employees at offshore operations typically earn higher wages than those working onshore due to extreme work conditions.

The oil and gas industry offers a wide range of career choices. Cutting-edge technology drives the industry and makes it possible to recover oil and gas from areas several miles below the surface of our oceans and from remote locations far from existing roads, cities, or supplies. The technology and ingenuity that make this industry successful comes from many disciplines working together to produce the energy that powers our world.

Many positions in the oil and gas industry are office-based. However, some take you around the world. Exploration and drilling workers frequently move from place to place. Operations and processing workers usually stay in the same location. Geologists, engineers, and project managers may split their time between the office and jobsites.

The Big Crew Change

Over the next 10 years, a large portion of the petroleum industry is set to retire. New engineers and scientists will be needed in every discipline. This new wave of young minds will take on larger roles and bigger projects earlier in their careers than their predecessors. That means opportunities to advance quickly.

Job Requirements

Petroleum industry workers are typically mechanically inclined, safety conscious, and work well in a team. Entry-level field jobs, such as roughnecks and roustabouts, typically require little or no previous training. Technician positions may require a two-year associate’s degree. Jobs in areas such as geology and engineering require at least a bachelor’s degree. Many companies prefer a master’s degree for these positions.