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Petroleum Engineering Major

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Petroleum Engineering

1,704 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
386 Master's Degrees Annually
#138 in Popularity
$148,970 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Petroleum Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many petroleum engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 1,704
Master’s Degree 386
Doctor’s Degree 146
Basic Certificate 28
Graduate Certificate 5

What Petroleum Engineering Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, petroleum engineering majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Petroleum Engineering majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Skills for Petroleum Engineering Majors

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

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  • 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.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Petroleum Engineering Majors

As a petroleum engineering major, you will find yourself needing the following abilities:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Petroleum Engineering Major?

People with a petroleum engineering degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Petroleum Engineers 15.1% $137,170

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering?

1,704 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
17% Percent Women
24% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 1,704 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in 2019, making it rank #138 in popularity. This major attracts more men than women. About 83% of the graduates in this field are male.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Petroleum Engineering Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 126
Black or African American 56
Hispanic or Latino 194
White 778
International Students 468
Other Races/Ethnicities 82

Geographic Diversity

Petroleum Engineering appeals to people across the globe. About 27.5% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Canada
  • Kuwait

How Much Do Petroleum Engineering Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

The U.S. Department of Education found that students who graduated in 2015-2017 with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering made a median starting salary of $65,500 per year. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $60,350 (25th percentile) and $73,250 (75th percentile).

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One thing to note here is that not all of these people may be working in careers related to petroleum engineering.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $113,680 to $156,370 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to petroleum engineering. 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, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Petroleum Engineering Major  ( 113680 to 156370 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some careers associated with petroleum engineering require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. Whatever the case may be, pursuing more education usually means that more career options will be available to you.

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

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 0.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 60.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.4%
Master’s Degree 17.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 3.0%
Doctoral Degree 10.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.0%

Online Petroleum Engineering Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 30 schools offered some type of petroleum engineering program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 1 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 0 0
Bachelor’s Degree 2 1
Post-Baccalaureate 1 0
Master’s Degree 23 5
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 15 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Petroleum Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a petroleum engineering grad is $148,970 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 273% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $2,181,400 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to petroleum engineering.

Major Number of Grads
Mechanical Engineering 47,405
Electrical Engineering 31,384
Civil Engineering 21,938
Computer Engineering 15,891
Chemical Engineering 14,406
Biomedical Engineering 12,001
General Engineering 11,739
Industrial Engineering 9,410
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 7,069
Materials Engineering 3,538
Systems Engineering 3,491
Other Engineering 2,982
Environmental Engineering 2,850
Operations Research 1,745
Agricultural Engineering 1,554
Engineering Science 1,515
Architectural Engineering 1,019
Nuclear Engineering 1,014
Engineering Physics 979
Robotics Engineering 943
Manufacturing Engineering 932
Construction Engineering 865
Marine Engineering 481
Geoscience Engineering 424
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 387
Biological Engineering 374
Textile Engineering 366
Ocean Engineering 346
Mining Engineering 340
Engineering Mechanics 314
Metallurgical Engineering 235
Biochemical Engineering 118
Ceramic Engineering 101
Surveying Engineering 89
Electromechanical Engineering 65
Forest Engineering 52
Paper Science & Engineering 44
Engineering Chemistry 9

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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