Petroleum Engineer Jobs
Petroleum Engineers are like the field managers in the industry, except they get to travel extensively. Petroleum Engineers are responsible for visiting potential drill sites before wells are dug to examine and determine not only the amount of fossil fuel that many rest in a deposit, but also the depth, quality and recoverability of that supply. Once it has been decided that the crude deposit is recoverable, it is the petroleum engineer’s job to oversee the drilling process including supervising construction and operations at the site. Petroleum engineers must determine the safest and most efficient means for crude oil or natural gas extraction. Once the extraction is completed, it is then the petroleum engineer’s responsibility to break down the site by disassembling the drills. Because petroleum engineers operate in the field, it is necessary for candidates to be relocated frequently.
Work for petroleum engineers can be very stressful, and full of unpredictable factors. Typically, petroleum engineers work directly from the field, although some deskwork is required for report analysis and recommendations. Over the past few years, the position has become increasingly challenging as more and more of the “easy” oil fields are being depleted. This is forcing the industry, and petroleum engineers, to pursue oil fields that are less accessible, which ultimately increases the challenges that the petroleum engineer must face. Because of this, the more education and experience a petroleum engineer has, the more the candidate will be able to adapt to the unpredictable changes within the industry.
Education and Skills
The educational and skill set requirements for a petroleum engineer are rigorous. It is imperative for a petroleum engineer to have a bachelor’s degree in a field related to earth sciences. A bachelor’s degree may not be enough in some places, as more and more engineers are pursuing their graduate degrees to better suit their employers. It is possible to get a degree specifically in petroleum engineering, but only a handful of universities such as the Illinois Institute or Technology, Texas Tech University and the Colorado School or Mines offer this program. It is also very good for potential candidates to have an interest in the physical sciences and mathematics. The analytical reasoning that comes from these disciplines will help any petroleum engineer, not to mention that the position does require extensive chemistry and math knowledge.
Salary and Growth
Within the first two years of the position, PEs can expect to work as junior assistants to more experienced engineers. This means mostly collecting and analyzing samples for senior engineers. After two years, petroleum engineers are experienced enough to visit their own sites and take their own risks. By the ten year marker, a petroleum engineer would have extensive experience in the unpredictable industry, and could then serve as an analyst or continue engineering.
There are about 36,000 people in the profession that work an average of 50 hours a week. The mean average wage is more than $130,000! The lowest 10% still earn in excess of $75,000 per year.
Petroleum Engineer Career Opportunities
Once a career in petroleum engineering comes to a close, there are a wide variety of options available. The background and experience that petroleum engineers gained over their careers qualifies them to be geologists, geophysicists, or energy economists. It is possible to stay in the industry and become a petroleum landman, drilling engineer, well-log analyst or even a chemical engineer or reservoir engineer.