Petroleum Engineering Jobs

Petroleum engineering involves the extraction of natural gas and oil from below the ground. This includes difficult situations and challenging environments such as desert and arctic conditions. Petroleum engineering is highly technical and requires knowledge of technology such as enhanced oil recovery and horizontal drilling, as well as experience with computer modeling, probability and statistics. There are three main types of petroleum engineers. Production engineers deal with sand control, downhole monitoring equipment and flow control. They also select surface equipment. Drilling engineers manage the drilling of the wells. Reservoir engineers work to maximize the production and recovery of the oil and gas.

Petroleum engineering involves many duties. However, the most significant priority for petroleum engineers is getting oil and gas to the surface as safely and cheaply as possible. When they find a site, they must analyze the ground to determine the best way to drill. They test the rock and reservoir to determine the fluid properties. The results help the engineers find the best way to drill. Once they drill, they often find oil and salt water together, so they must be able to return the salt water to the ground without spilling it, as it can damage crops.

One of the biggest draws of petroleum engineering is the extremely high pay. It is the highest-paying area of engineering, as well as the 24th highest-paying job in the United States overall. The average salary for a petroleum engineer is more than $125,000, with many experienced engineers earning in the range of $170,000 to $260,000 a year. Of the estimated 28,000 petroleum engineers in the United States, most work for oil companies or as consultants for the government. More than 15,000 petroleum engineers work in Texas. The top-paying industries are in oil and gas extraction and management, with average annual salaries climbing above $140,000.

In order to get into the petroleum engineering field, a bachelor's degree is required. There are not many petroleum engineering schools in the United States, and most of them are in oil-producing states such as Texas and Oklahoma. Therefore, you may have to relocate and attend school out of state in order to study petroleum engineering. An Internet search can show you the appropriate schools and the degree programs available at each, so you can compare. As an undergraduate student, you can expect to take classes in petroleum fundamentals and production, drilling practices, reservoir rock and fluid properties, geology, production engineering, natural gas engineering, petroleum economics, well test analysis, water flooding, fluid flow, enhanced oil recovery and horizontal well technology. You may also be required to take several labs and computer simulation classes so you gain hands-on experience in the field. A master's degree is generally not required unless you plan to teach. Postgraduate degree programs emphasize research and theory.

Petroleum engineering can be an exciting career, since there are jobs all over the world. If you enjoy traveling, you can work in a foreign country. It is often easy to find a job in petroleum engineering, since many universities have job placement programs. In addition, many oil and engineering companies actively recruit on many college campuses.

One thing to note is that oil and gas prices affect employment in the petroleum engineering field. Demand is higher when prices go up. When prices go down, it is cheaper to buy oil and gas from other countries rather than hire petroleum engineers to find reservoirs. Another drawback with petroleum engineering is the work environment. Petroleum engineers can expect to work primarily outdoors in all types of inclement weather. Because oil rigs run constantly, they may have to work long or irregular hours. In order to meet current employment demands, petroleum engineers may have to move frequently.

Petroleum Engineer Salary

Petroleum Engineering Schools & Degree Programs

Last Updated: 06/08/2014

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