Petroleum Engineers

Annual Earnings Percentiles

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  • Supported: 92
  • Analytical: 87
  • Creative: 61
  • Social: 46
  • Purpose: 25

What Petroleum Engineers Do

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.

Work Environment

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.

College Majors

Showing data from the American Community Survey for the following US Census occupation categories:

  • Petroleum, mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

Bachelor's degree majors are shown.

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    Job Outlook

    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.

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    Job Trends for Petroleum Engineers

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    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.

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