- Make the Most of High School
- Choose the Best College
- Develop the Right Skills
- Be Willing to Work Like a Trojan
- Obtain Additional Credentials
- What About the Job Outlook & Salary?
- How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Petroleum Engineer?
- Petroleum Engineering Degree Requirements
- Overview of Petroleum Engineering Requirements
The 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. Traveling 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.
The salary of a petroleum engineer 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.
How Many Years Does It Take to Become a Petroleum Engineer?
A bachelor’s degree is typically 4 years.
To become a Petroleum Engineer, you need to have some important personality traits, in addition to meeting certain requirements. These include good analytical and problem solving skills, creativity and design capabilities, good communication skills, and the ability to adapt to a changing environment rapidly. You need to be focused and determined as well, since this job requires you to work in a very demanding environment both in the office and onsite in difficult conditions.
Finally, you must be willing to travel extensively and potentially live away from your home for extended periods, as well as be able to operate independently with minimal support. These are just some of the minimum petroleum engineering requirements.
Petroleum Engineering Degree Requirements
The next step is to ensure you have a good background in mathematics and science as this is a prerequisite to embark on this career. The minimum petroleum engineering degree requirements is a Bachelor’s degree which takes four years to complete and generally includes an industry internship placement.
Some engineering programs also offer five year programs that lead to a Master degree as well. Additionally, degrees in chemical, civil and mechanical engineering are also accepted together with earth sciences and mathematics. It is necessary, though, to ensure that the degree is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) in order for it to be accepted.
While not required, a certification option is available through the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE). You will need to ensure you have an ABET certified Bachelor’s engineering degree and have completed at least four years of experience in the field. Additionally you will need to join the SPE and pass an exam which covers engineering fundamentals as well as practical engineering problems. This will provide you with an SPE Certified Petroleum Engineer (CPE) certificate for which you will need to ensure at least 16 hours of professional education or training in the field each year. By having the CPE, you have access to greater professional opportunities as well as higher salaries.
Overview of Petroleum Engineering Requirements
If after a period of working for an Oil & Gas company you wish to work as a self-employed engineer offering your services on a contract basis, then you need to ensure you are licensed by the state you are based in. The requirements for this licensing are similar to the SPE certification and include the requirement for an ABET accredited engineering degree.
The next step would be to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam which can be taken any time after your degree completion. At this level, you would be termed as Engineer in Training (EIT). After you complete a minimum of four years of experience, you can then take the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. On successful completion of this exam you can obtain your license as a Professional Engineer (PE). Most states recognize the professional licenses issued by other states as long as those state requirements meet or exceed their own licensing requirements.
These are the minimum petroleum engineering requirements that need to be met in order to pursue this career. Of course, the more experience and course work you have under your belt, the better off you will be.