How to Become a Petroleum Engineer |The Only Career Guide You Need

Petroleum Engineer

Did you know the mean annual wage for petroleum engineers is $156,000?
If you’ve been thinking of pursuing a career as a petroleum engineer, you’re banging on the money! With the vast majority of professions paying about $50K a year, you’ll be well over and above most of your friends, as far as monetary compensation is concerned.


Don’t get lost in the excitement though. Before you get this paycheck, you need to take the necessary steps to be a petroleum engineer.


Are you ready for the task ahead?

Continue reading to learn what it takes to pursue a career in petroleum engineering.


Understand What Petroleum Engineers Do

Of course, compensation isn’t the only thing you should look at when deciding whether an oil engineering career is right for you. You ought to have a clear picture of what these engineers do. This way, you’ll be in a better position to judge whether you have what it takes to excel in it.

 In general, petroleum engineers are responsible for designing the systems used to extract oil and natural gases from below the earth’s surface.

This involves:


Designing Oil and Gas Drilling Equipment

Devising a Drilling Plan

Overseeing the installation and operation of this Equipment in Oil Fields

Finding more efficient ways to improve the productivity of an oil field Troubleshooting oil drilling equipment when they malfunction Supervising oil field technicians and other junior staff Collaborating with other industry

professionals, such as geologists, For the most part, the job of a petroleum engineer isn’t your typical 9 to 5 office gig. This means you shouldn’t expect to sit behind a desk handling paperwork. Petroleum engineers typically spend their time on oil drilling sites, some of which are onshore oil rigs.

When you’re a petroleum engineer, expect the job to keep you away from your loved ones for a couple of weeks at a time. You might want to read about what life is like working on an oil rig to get a clear picture of what awaits you. 

If you’re ready for the challenge, let’s focus on the first major step you’re going to take.

Pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering

Like most engineering careers, petroleum engineering is an education-intensive career. This isn’t one of the jobs you can secure with just a high school diploma or little professional oil training.

 An entry-level petroleum engineering job requires a bachelor’s degree. As such, you need to go to college and pursue a bachelor’s program in petroleum engineering. Ensure the program is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.


Early into the course, you’ll learn about basic engineering topics, including fluid mechanics, the strength of materials, transport phenomena, and thermodynamics. As you progress, you’ll dive into topics that will develop your petroleum engineering knowledge and competence, including:


  1. Well systems design and analysis
  2. Procedures for drilling and completing wells
  3. Geological formations
  4. Reservoir engineering principles
  5. Project economics and resource evaluation


Most petroleum engineering programs take four years to complete, but there are also 5-year programs that lead to both an undergraduate and graduate degree.


Most employers prefer the latter, so it’s advisable to prioritize enrolling in a 5-year program.

If you’re unable to, settle for the 4-year program. After completion, you can then pursue a one or two-year graduate program. What if you’re an oil rig technician right now and wondering how you can advance and become a petroleum engineer?


Well, pursuing a degree is the surest way of taking your career to the next level, but there are short oil and gas training courses you can pursue to improve your prospects.


Develop Occupational Skills


Petroleum engineering knowledge alone isn’t enough to make you a well-rounded engineer. You also need to possess the right occupational skills. For instance, you need exceptional analytical skills to excel at the job. Every day, you’ll be dealing with a vast amount of technical data, which you’ll need to synthesize and make sense of.


Strong problem-solving skills are a must-have. Oil drilling equipment and systems will fail or malfunction from time to time. It’s your job to troubleshoot the problem and find a solution so that your technicians can make the necessary repairs or upgrades. To be a competent petroleum engineer, you need to be excellent at math, with no shortcuts.


You must be able to understand and apply the principles of calculus and other advanced math concepts to solve petroleum engineering problems . You also need to be a good team player. On any oil drilling project, you’ll find a team of petroleum engineers, geologists, technicians, and oil rig workers. Without good collaboration skills, you’ll find it hard to be productive in a team environment.


Find Entry-Level Jobs


After graduating from college, you’re ready to start hunting for an entry-level job.

Large oil and gas extraction companies are the primary employers of petroleum engineers, but you can also find employment in energy companies that aren’t directly involved in oil and gas drilling. What is next after securing an entry-level job? How do you move up the ladder?

You need to secure a Professional Engineer (PE) license.

 The requirements include having at least 4 years of work experience as an engineer and passing the professional engineering exam. As a Professional Engineer, you can qualify for leadership and management positions, most of which won’t require you to be present at oil drilling sites.


The managers of large oil and gas companies are usually oil engineers who worked their way up.

If you’ve got more ambition, you can pursue a doctoral degree in petroleum engineering. This will enable you to move into academia and research, where you’ll educate and nurture the next generation of petroleum engineers.


Becoming a Petroleum Engineer: Start Your Journey

A career in petroleum engineering is richly rewarding, no doubt. To pursue it, though, you must put in the hard work. With this guide on how to become a petroleum engineer, you’re ready to start your

journey the best and keep reading our blog for more career resources.




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