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Petroleum Engineering Major

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Petroleum Engineering

2,151 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
515 Master's Degrees Annually
#126 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 2017-2018 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 2,151
Master’s Degree 515
Doctor’s Degree 134
Basic Certificate 18

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

This major prepares you for careers in which these 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

When studying petroleum engineering, you’ll learn many skills that will help you be successful in a wide range of jobs - even those that do not require a degree in the field. The following is a list of some of the most common skills needed for careers associated with this major:

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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

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

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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?

Below is a list of occupations associated with petroleum engineering:

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?

2,151 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
17% Percent Women
25% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities
This is a less frequently chosen undergraduate major. Only 2,151 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering in 2018, making it rank #126 in popularity. This major tends to be male dominated. About 83% of recent graduates are men.

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 167
Black or African American 83
Hispanic or Latino 225
White 1,076
International Students 498
Other Races/Ethnicities 102

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Petroleum Engineering, too. About 23.2% 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

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering have a median salary of $65,500 during the early years of their career. 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 you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

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 degrees associated with petroleum engineering may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. 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.

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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 2017-2018 academic year, 28 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 4 1
Post-Baccalaureate 1 0
Master’s Degree 23 4
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 14 2
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 46,014
Electrical Engineering 31,993
Civil Engineering 21,299
Computer Engineering 15,329
Chemical Engineering 14,729
Biomedical Engineering 11,483
General Engineering 11,245
Industrial Engineering 9,714
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 6,315
Materials Engineering 3,555
Systems Engineering 3,439
Other Engineering 2,900
Environmental Engineering 2,746
Operations Research 1,555
Agricultural Engineering 1,546
Engineering Science 1,509
Nuclear Engineering 1,050
Engineering Physics 1,028
Manufacturing Engineering 920
Architectural Engineering 874
Construction Engineering 870
Robotics Engineering 755
Geoscience Engineering 510
Marine Engineering 506
Mining Engineering 434
Biological Engineering 400
Textile Engineering 359
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 348
Engineering Mechanics 329
Ocean Engineering 305
Metallurgical Engineering 218
Biochemical Engineering 124
Ceramic Engineering 111
Electromechanical Engineering 84
Surveying Engineering 73
Paper Science & Engineering 51
Forest Engineering 39
Engineering Chemistry 5

References

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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