How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

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Petroleum is very important worldwide because it makes up majority of the world’s fuel in some form. Petroleum engineering is an essential field that is concerned with the production of natural gas or crude oil. Petroleum engineers search for reservoirs around the world that contain these resources.


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What does a petroleum engineer do?

Petroleum engineers find oil and natural gas resources and plan out and oversee the process of extracting and placing the resources in storage containers. They determine the methods and equipment for drilling and supervise the workers who perform drilling. They also test samples from the reservoir and rock layers to choose the best techniques and tools. Petroleum engineers design processes and equipment to maximize the amount of profit from the extraction of oil and natural gas. Since there is only a small amount of gas and oil in reservoir that comes out due to natural forces, petroleum engineers create and use many different extraction methods such as injecting chemicals, water, steam, or gases into reservoirs to extract more oil. Petroleum engineers also research and create new methods and technology to lower drilling costs and produce more oil and natural gas.

What kind of training does a petroleum engineer need?

Petroleum engineers must have at least a bachelor degree. Many have a degree in petroleum engineering and others have degrees in related fields such as mining, mechanical, or civil engineering, geology, or geophysics. Those with degrees in related fields usually have supporting coursework or minors in petroleum engineering. A master or doctorate degree is typically required for teaching or research positions. Many large companies offer formal training programs for new petroleum engineers. Petroleum engineers who work for public sectors must be licensed in their state. The requirements for licensure are usually an engineering degree, 4 years of work experience, and passing a state examination.

What are the prospects for a career as a petroleum engineer?

Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow slower than average for all professions, increasing 5% from 2006 to 2016 (1). The demand for the development of new techniques to extract additional resources from current petroleum sources will drive job growth.

Job prospects are expected to be favorable because there are many more job opportunities than the number of annual college graduates.

How much do petroleum engineers make?

As of August 2009, petroleum engineers with less than 1 year experience earned annual salaries between $64,562 and $89,467. Petroleum engineers with 1 to 4 years experience earned annual salaries between $69,998 and $92,095 (2).

A career as a petroleum engineer is a great choice for individuals who have a great interest in oil and natural gas. Petroleum engineers must have talent in science and mathematics, good problem solving and logical thinking, great precision, and excellent leadership skills. They must also have good communication skills and be able to work independently or as part of a team.

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