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Petroleum Engineering

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Petroleum Engineering Major

Petroleum engineering is a major that typically falls into the Engineering category.

There are 0 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in petroleum engineering, 23 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 23 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 15 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Petroleum Engineering Degree?

This is a less frequently chosen major. Only 2,100 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in 2017. This major tends to be male dominated. About 83% of recent graduates are men.

Racial Distribution

At the countrywide level, the racial distribution of petroleum engineering majors is as follows:

  • Asian: 7.8%
  • Black or African American: 3.9%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 10.5%
  • White: 50%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 23.2%
  • Other Races: 4.7%
Petroleum Engineering Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in petroleum engineering. About 23.2% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending petroleum engineering majors to the U.S. are China, Saudi Arabia and India.

What Will You Learn as a Petroleum Engineering Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to petroleum engineering to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Petroleum Engineering Majors

A major in petroleum engineering should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

Important Knowledge Areas for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Skills for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Petroleum engineering majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

Important Skills for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Abilities for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a petroleum engineering student include the following:

Important Abilities for petroleum engineering Majors

What Can You Do With a Petroleum Engineering Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with petroleum engineering:

Careers Related to Petroleum Engineering
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Architectural and Engineering Managers



Petroleum Engineers



Engineering Professors



Petroleum Engineering Major Salary

Petroleum engineering majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $114,000 to $156,000. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Petroleum Engineering Major  ( 114000 to 156000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Petroleum Engineering Major Jobs

Some careers associated with petroleum engineering require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for petroleum engineering careers below.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Petroleum Engineering
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Petroleum Engineering Programs

There are 23 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering, with 1 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Petroleum Engineering Major Worth It?

The median salary for a petroleum engineering grad is $149,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 283% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $2,201,400 after 20 years!

petroleum engineering salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
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