Petroleum engineers develop technology and methods to drill into the earth and recover oil and gas resources effectively. They collaborate with geologists to determine the formation of the earth where the deposits are, then work out the most efficient method of extracting the maximum amount of gas and oil from the deposit.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that most petroleum engineers work in oil and gas extraction; support activities for mining; and architectural, engineering, and related services. If you decide to become a petroleum engineer, it’s necessary that you communicate well, understand a variety of engineering concepts, and have a firm grasp of math and physics.
A bachelor’s degree is the minimum training required for most petroleum engineer jobs. To work as an engineer offering your services directly to the public, you’ll need to be licensed as a professional engineer (PE). Licensure typically requires a degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, passing a state exam, and four years of work experience.
If you are working in the industry, wanting to return to school or just want to start out earning a petroleum engineer salary working in the field, you might be interested in all the ways to earn college credit. Sometimes, students are drawn to getting an online education while working in their fields in some capacity. Even traditional college students are seeing the benefits of online courses. Make sure an online school is accredited and that important credits transfer.
As new technologies are being used to help drill harder to find petroleum reserves, the petroleum engineer should be in demand by organizations in the petroleum industry. The specific salary that anyone ends up earning, especially a petroleum engineer salary, can be affected by the economy, benefit package and options. However, this is a highly specialized field that requires a lot of cooperation with other colleagues and very specific training and education. Having earned a petroleum engineering degree should open up a lot of opportunities to advance your career. Joining the Society for Petroleum Engineers (SPE) could improve your chances of securing permanent employment and allow you to network with like-minded professionals.
The most petroleum engineer jobs tend to be located in states that have significant petroleum deposits, including Texas, Alaska, California, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. If you’re interested in making the most of a career as a petroleum engineer, consider living in Texas, Oklahoma, or Arkansas, since these states tend to have lower costs of living.
Petroleum Engineer Salary
Aspiring petroleum engineers can most likely look forward to an excellent salary. Petroleum engineering salaries are in some of the highest ranges that a new college graduate with a bachelor’s degree can earn. It is difficult to predict exactly what any professional will make because every employer is different and also may have different benefit packages. According to the United States Department of Labor and Bureau of Labor Statistics website, the petroleum engineering salary per year topped the list of all engineers and essentially all professions available to bachelor’s degree holders. A petroleum engineering salary can start at about $80,000 a year and has the potential to double in the lifetime of a petroleum engineer. The BLS reports that the mean annual petroleum engineer salary in 2009 was $119,960, and the 90th percentile earned a median salary of $150,310. Starting salaries for petroleum engineers are quite good, since the 10th percentile earned $58,600. The top-paying states for petroleum engineers are Arkansas, North Dakota, Alaska, Colorado, and California.
The petroleum industry can be a lucrative one to work in, but like all industries, it is susceptible to fluctuations in the economy. During periods of the decline in a price of a barrel of oil, there have been extensive layoffs that affect the entire petroleum industry, so this might be wise to keep in mind.
The career outlook for petroleum engineers is quite good, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, thanks to the fact that petroleum engineers should be needed to develop new resources, as well as extract more from the current resources. The employment in this career field is expected to rise by approximately 18 percent between 2008 and 2018.