Sep 22, 2017

How to Become a Petroleum Engineer


Petroleum engineers oversee the process of drilling and extracting crude oil and natural gas resources from the earth. Learn how to become a petroleum engineer and earn a good petroleum engineer salary, a background and training in engineering and geology is essential. Jump below to view a list of petroleum engineer schools and accredited online degree programs.


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Petroleum engineers search high and low for deposits of crude oil and natural gases. Petroleum is very important worldwide because it makes up majority of the world’s fuel in some form. Dedicated to the study of hydrocarbons and petroleum geology, Petroleum engineering is an essential field concerned with the production of natural gas and crude oil.

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.

In general, there are three distinct types of petroleum engineers: reservoir engineers, drilling engineers, and production engineers (also known as subsurface engineers). Overseeing the overall construction of oil wells, reservoir engineers optimize the production of oil and gas by monitoring and managing production rates and implementing enhanced oil recovery methods as needed. Focusing more on the technical aspects of petroleum engineering, drilling engineers oversee the drilling of production, injection, and exploratory oil wells. Finally, production engineers specialize in mantaining the interaction between the well and the actual reservoir. They also research and recommend equipment able to separate and sort oil, natural gas, and water.

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, and geoscience. 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% through 2016. 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.

Petroleum Engineer Salary: How much do petroleum engineers make?

As of 2015, the petroleum engineer salary for those with less than 1 year experience was between $64,562 and $89,467. The petroleum engineer salary for those with 1 to 4 years experience was between $69,998 and $92,095.

For anyone consider whether and how to become a petroleum engineer, this is potentially 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.

Becoming a Petroleum Engineer Requires Skills & Training, Start Today

Do you know what the top highest-paying engineering jobs are? Set yourself up for a good salary job with an engineering degree!

Are you serious about becoming a Petroleum Engineer? Then you need to get the required skills and training to do it! To start your new career, first you must decide what school you want to enroll in, so you need to gather info about potential schools. Use the  College Mouse Degree Search tool  to find the right course and college for you, and get started towards your new dream job today! If you want more personalized assistance, call (888) 389-7996 TOLL FREE to speak with a college advisor, who will help you find the best college for you. After you sign up for your course, make sure you fill out and submit the FAFSA so you can take advantage of any financial aid currently available to you!


  1. Dear Madam / Sir,

    I am a B.Sc. in Geophysics/Technics, and would like to continue my academic path towards a Petroleum Engineer degree. Please advice with regards to the following:
    1- Number of semesters to go from B.Sc. to get Engineer degree.
    2- Tuition Fee payable per year or per semseter.
    3- Availability of financial aid/scolarships for EU citizens.

    Thank You for your soonest answer / clarifications.


    • Hi Nadjib,

      Thank you for visiting

      There is no single answer to your question as there are many variables to consider. You could study petroleum engineering at either undergraduate or masters level. Depending on your preference and personal circumstances, this would impact the length, cost and financial aid opportunities available. For example, the Cockrell School of Engineering at University of Texas–Austin offers a Bachelor of Science – Petroleum Engineering degree program that costs about $17,506/year for international students, as well as programs at Masters and PhD level.

      We suggest that you identify a couple of schools. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can then contact the schools directly for detailed course information. You can use our degree search tool to find suitable engineering colleges (see link –

      Best Wishes,

      College Mouse Team

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