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Life As a Petroleum Engineer

Example of Petroleum Engineer Job Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs. Oversee drilling and offer technical advice.

Life As a Petroleum Engineer: What Do They Do?

  • Conduct engineering research experiments to improve or modify mining and oil machinery and operations.
  • Specify and supervise well modification and stimulation programs to maximize oil and gas recovery.
  • Confer with scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to resolve design, research, and testing problems.
  • Evaluate findings to develop, design, or test equipment or processes.
  • Design and implement environmental controls on oil and gas operations.
  • Test machinery and equipment to ensure that it is safe and conforms to performance specifications.

Skills Needed to be a Petroleum Engineer

Below is a list of the skills most Petroleum Engineers say are important on the job.

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

Types of Petroleum Engineer

  • Mining and Oil Field Equipment Design Engineer
  • Facilities Engineer
  • Completions Engineer
  • Natural Gas Engineer
  • Oil Exploration Engineer

Job Opportunities for Petroleum Engineers

In 2016, there was an estimated number of 33,700 jobs in the United States for Petroleum Engineer. New jobs are being produced at a rate of 15.1% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5,100 new jobs for Petroleum Engineer by 2026. Due to new job openings and attrition, there will be an average of 2,800 job openings in this field each year.


The states with the most job growth for Petroleum Engineer are Wyoming, North Dakota, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in California, Alaska, or West Virginia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Petroleum Engineer Make?

The typical yearly salary for Petroleum Engineers is somewhere between $74,270 and $208,000.


Petroleum Engineers who work in Indiana, New Jersey, or Texas, make the highest salaries.

How much do Petroleum Engineers make in each U.S. state?

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $115,180
Alaska $161,290
Arizona $137,830
California $142,430
Colorado $153,640
Hawaii $121,050
Illinois $131,510
Indiana $198,590
Kansas $118,160
Louisiana $145,880
Montana $141,530
New Jersey $194,340
North Dakota $124,880
Ohio $94,270
Oklahoma $146,990
Pennsylvania $122,510
Texas $169,010
West Virginia $111,400
Wyoming $115,250

What Tools & Technology do Petroleum Engineers Use?

Below is a list of the types of tools and technologies that Petroleum Engineers may use on a daily basis:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Python
  • Microsoft Access
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Project
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Microsoft Visio
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • Linux
  • IBM Notes
  • R
  • Oracle software
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software
  • Google Analytics

Becoming a Petroleum Engineer

Individuals working as a Petroleum Engineer have obtained the following education levels:


What work experience do I need to become a Petroleum Engineer?


Where Petroleum Engineers Work


Petroleum Engineers work in the following industries:



Image Credit: via CC0 Public Domain

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