How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

Become a Petroleum EngineerThe first step in becoming a Petroleum Engineer is getting a relevant degree from a respected school. Matching you with those programs is what this site is all about!

Take the first step towards getting your degree by popping your zip code into the widget on the right – it’s a quick, free, painless process that will get you started on the right path.

In case it’s a new term for you, petroleum engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on the production of hydrocarbons (e.g., crude oil/natural gas). If you’re interested in this field and want to earn a remarkable salary, then keep reading on. This article will cover how to become a petroleum engineer, how to get a head start, how to advance your career, and the job outlook as rated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (spoiler alert – the outlook is very good!).



Petroleum engineers design equipment, build strategies, and develop ways to extract oil and gas from the earth.  Other professionals such as geologists, drilling operators, etc, work with them to determine which drilling method will be the best to extract oil and gas.

The following video from our friends at Engineer We Go summarizes the steps you might take to become a petroleum engineer, which are then explained in greater detail below:

Make the Most of High School

Ideally you should do 2 years of science and math to prepare yourself for the challenging courses that will come in college. (If it’s too late for that, grab a couple of good books and study by yourself – hard.)

Two years of algebra is recommended, and you’ll need some trig, calc, and geometry.

For science, bone up on the usual – chemistry, physics, biology, and any courses you can take along the lines of environmental science will only benefit you.



Choose the Best College

You should hold at the very least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, preferably petroleum, and that’s going to take at least 4 years. So picking the right college is a pretty big deal. Hopefully you’ll find that this website helps with that decision.

Before joining any program, be sure that it is accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology in petroleum engineering. (Note – anything linked to from this site should be accredited.)

Many programs offer a five-year program leading to a master’s degree, and the coursework incorporates studies in advanced mathematics such as algebra, trigonometry, calculus, computer-aid design, and science subjects such as biology, and chemistry.

Fortunately, you got yourself a headstart in those topics in high school. Right?

Develop the Right Skills

To become a successful petroleum engineer, you should have natural skills and personal attributes to make a project successful. You must have strong mathematics and analytical skills to design equipment, develop drilling methods, and solve problems related with drilling. Creativity is critical to perform this job well, because you have to design different types of equipment for different environments to extract oil and gas.

Additionally, you should be an excellent team player and communicator because you have to work with a variety of professionals. Travelling may be part of your job, so you may have to travel for extended periods to work at different sites and supervise drilling operations.

Be Willing to Work Like a Trojan

This is a job that pays very well, but it’s not for the faint-hearted. You’ll have to show employers that you’re willing to travel, work overtime, and work shifts. Rotations are a bruising 84 hours on/84 hours off.

Anything you can do to show your determination, like volunteer work or helping out with your local chapter of SPE (see below) will help you succeed.

Obtain Additional Credentials

Although not required, extra credentials can significantly increase job opportunities for you when you’re ready to become a petroleum engineer. You should obtain membership with The Society of Petroleum Engineers for its association and certification. You will be entitled to earn higher wages if you have professional engineer license, so try to get one.

To obtain the license, you have to pass two exams and have four years of professional engineering experience.

What About the Job Outlook & Salary?

The number of jobs for petroleum engineers is expected to grow by 10 percent by the year 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many engineers will be retiring during that period, and more engineers will be required to handle the on-site job.

Salary of a petroleum engineers ranges from $75k to $187k or more, depending on your degree, credential and the experience you have.

By ensuring that the proper education and skill development, you can increase your chances of successfully becoming a petroleum engineer. Going above and beyond with additional credentials will only make things better.