Petroleum engineers

Petroleum engineers devise methods and processes to extract oil and natural gas. After a suitable site has been found, the petroleum engineer works with geologists, technicians, and other engineers to organize and establish the most productive way to drill. They are constantly pursuing new and improved methods and equipment in order to maximize the amount of gas and oil they extract, while following environmental laws and regulations.

Petroleum engineers can also specialize further within their field. They may focus on a specific aspect of the drilling or processing operation, or on the type of location the operation will be drilling in. Some work exclusively on completing wells efficiently, while others work to limit environmental damage from extraction operations.

Duties may include:

  • Designing new and improved methods for extracting and processing oil and gas
  • Overseeing the construction of wells and other equipment
  • Evaluating the rates and quality of production and developing ways to improve them
  • Ensuring that equipment and processes operate as designed and according to regulations
  • Consulting with engineers and other personnel on problems or complex projects
  • Managing the work and workers involved with setting up, using, and maintaining machinery for drilling

BECOMING A PETROLEUM ENGINEER

A bachelor's degree in engineering is required in order to work as an engineer in this field. While an engineering degree in petroleum engineering is not mandated, it is encouraged. Students are also advised to participate in internships and work exchanges that provide them with real-world and practical experience in addition to their academic education. Graduate degrees in this field may qualify engineers for teaching, research, and development work.

In order to make their services open to the public, petroleum engineers must have be licensed. They can earn a license to become a professional engineer. This requires the engineer to have a bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited program, significant work experience, and pass one or more exams. Engineers in some states may have to continue their training or education over their career in order to keep their license. Petroleum engineers can also earn a professional certification by meeting certain professional requirements.

IMPORTANT QUALITIES

  • Analytical skills. Petroleum engineers must be analyze all aspects and factors of a drilling operation before beginning construction. Because it is such a complex process, involving many workers, engineers need to plan thoroughly and consider all possible outcomes of different design options.
  • Creativity. Current methods of drilling for gas and oil are not especially efficient, so petroleum engineers try to devise new methods and equipment for improved extraction. They must invent new ways to look at existing problems.
  • Math skills. Engineers use calculations and mathematical principles in many aspects of their design, production, and problem-solving work.
  • Problem-solving skills. Because drilling operations can be very expensive, petroleum engineers need to plan for potential problems during the extraction and be able to produce workable solutions quickly if issues arise.

Job Outlook

 

Job opportunities are expected to grow significantly for petroleum engineers over the next several years, far more quickly than the average rate for all occupations. As oil prices increase and fuel sources are more depleted, petroleum engineers will be hired to find new and improved ways to drill and extract fuel. In addition, many petroleum engineers are also expected to retire, thus opening up more positions.

  Occupation Description Entry-Level Education 2012 Median Pay
Aerospace engineers Aerospace engineers

A bachelor's degree in an engineering field is mandatory for this occupation. The engineering field specifically should be related to aerospace. Education for this work begins in high school-students need solid coursework in math and science. Following this, students can earn an engineering degree from an accredited college or university. Some offer five-year degrees that combine a bachelor's and a master's degree in their field.

Bachelor's degree $103,720
Architectural and engineering managers Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, coordinate, and direct activities in architectural and engineering companies.'

Bachelor's degree $124,870
Chemists and materials scientists Chemists and materials scientists

Chemists and materials scientists study substances at the atomic and molecular levels and the ways in which substances react with each other. They use their knowledge to develop new and improved products and to test the quality of manufactured goods.'

Bachelor's degree $73,060
Geoscientists Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.'

Bachelor's degree $90,890
Industrial engineering technicians Industrial engineering technicians

Technicians usually need an associate's degree or a professional certificate to find work, but they can begin their training in high school by taking classes in math, science, computer skills and science, and drafting (when possible). Following a high school diploma, they can enroll in a community college for a degree or a technical school for a certificate.

Associate's degree $50,980
Industrial engineers Industrial engineers

High school students can start preparing for their career by taking classes in math, science, and computer science. Industrial engineers must have an engineering degree, typically from an accredited university program. The bachelor's degree program will usually combine class time with field work to give the student practical experience. Students can also pursue a master's degree in their field.

Bachelor's degree $78,860
Materials engineers Materials engineers

High school students can prepare for their engineering training by taking classes in math and science. Entry level work as a materials engineer requires a bachelor's degree in the field. Students also have the option of earning graduate degrees that continue their training in the classroom and the real world.

Bachelor's degree $85,150
Mechanical engineering technicians Mechanical engineering technicians

Mechanical engineering technicians can start their training in high school by taking classes in math and science. After earning their diploma, they can move on to a community college or a technical school to earn an associate's degree in the field. Students are encouraged to earn their degree from an accredited program.;

Associate's degree $51,980
Mechanical engineers Mechanical engineers

Mechanical engineers typically need a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering or mechanical engineering technology in order to qualify for entire-level work in their field. Some schools offer combined bachelor's and master's degree programs and others offer extended programs that combine traditional education with practical work experience.

Bachelor's degree $80,580
Sales engineers Sales engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.'

Bachelor's degree $91,830

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