Considering a Petroleum Engineering Job?

There are a wide variety of petroleum engineering jobs available and they include outstanding salaries and opportunities to travel.


According to College Navigator, there are twenty-five institutions in the US that grant four year degrees for petroleum engineering. The Society of Petroleum Engineering offers a list of engineering and technology programs on their website, which includes schools outside of the US. The entry on the database can include links to each school and their program requirements.

Society of Petroleum Engineers reports that the number of graduates from petroleum engineering programs was at a twenty year high.  However, that number is only about one thousand graduates at the bachelor's level, and with an emphasis on developing access to oil and gas resources, the need for petroleum engineers will remain strong.

Basic Tasks

Petroleum engineers identify reserves of oil and natural gas and they determine the production or extraction method that will access these resources. This requires examining exploration reports, using maps and models to determine the best method to extract the resource and creating reports about their findings. To perform these tasks, they use maps, computers, modeling systems, mathematics and chemistry to analyze data. Engineers will usually work on a team to create their analysis and present their findings to their companies or the organization that has hired them to extract the resource. Even in the service of one employer, they can travel all over the world to perform their work.

Petroleum engineers can progress in their careers through promotion to more senior levels. Most engineers will begin their careers supervised by a more senior engineer, but they in turn will acquire enough experience to take on larger projects and supervise younger engineers. Many engineers will pursue additional education, such as a graduate degree in engineering or an MBA, and about twenty percent of engineers will have completed a graduate degree of some type.


According to the most recent salary survey by the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the base pay salary for petroleum engineers with zero to ten years experience was $100, 517 per year. Salary can vary widely by industry, with engineers at the same level of experience working in research making $94,227 per year, whereas engineers in the reservoir sector receive $113,006 per year. Executives or top management in this field make an average salary of $212,251 per year.

Different Options

Petroleum engineers can work in extraction and reservoir facilities. They also work in the office environment, reviewing reports, designing plants and extraction procedures, reviewing current procedures. They also write reports, make presentations and consult with other firms about their projects and site potential. They also explore how to deal with waste products from petroleum production.

They are also involved in sales, marketing, automation, human resources and in teaching. The Society for Professional Engineers is encouraging employers to allow their petroleum engineers to teach as adjuncts at the college level. The Society has even suggested that some firms should augment the salaries of their engineers that take time out to teach to make the academic salaries more attractive to these engineers. Since petroleum engineers are concerned with energy production, some petroleum engineers are now branching into new areas such as geothermal energy.