Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.
Petroleum engineers generally work in offices or in research laboratories. However, they also must spend time at drilling sites, often for long periods of time.
How to Become a Petroleum Engineer
Petroleum engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably in petroleum engineering. However, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or chemical engineering may also meet employer requirements. Employers also value work experience, so cooperative engineering programs, in which students earn academic credit and job experience, are valuable as well.
Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2014 to 2024, faster than the average for all occupations. Oil prices will be a major determinant of employment growth. As higher prices lead to increasing complexity of oil companies’ operations, more engineers may be required for each drilling operation.
This occupation supported 38,500 jobs in 2012 and 35,100 jobs in 2014, reflecting a decline of 8.8%. In 2012, this occupation was projected to increase by 25.7% in 2022 to 48,400 jobs. As of 2014, to keep pace with prediction, the expected number of jobs was 40,400, compared with an observed value of 35,100, 13.1% lower than expected. This indicates current employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation. In 2014, this occupation was projected to increase by 8.8% in 2024 to 38,500 jobs. Linear extrapolation of the 2012 projection for 2022 results in an expected number of 50,300 jobs for 2024, 30.6% higher than the 2014 projection for 2024. This indicates expectations for future employment trends are much worse than the 2012 trend within this occupation.