How do I Become a Petroleum Engineer?

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  • Written By: M. West
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 05 November 2019
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The minimum educational requirement to become a petroleum engineer is a bachelor's degree in chemical or petroleum engineering. Most college degree programs for this career feature courses in math, physical sciences and life sciences, but the focus of the curriculum involves this specific type of engineering. Most petroleum engineering programs include a design course as well as general courses to provide a well-rounded education. In addition to the educational requirements, certain temperamental traits are needed to become a petroleum engineer. Good communication skills are essential, and the personality characteristics of being analytical and detail-oriented are advantageous.

Graduate study is not required for most entry-level jobs. Many members of this profession, however, acquire advanced degrees in engineering or business administration to equip them better for their career. Participating in continuing education throughout their professional life is essential in keeping abreast of technological changes. Entry-level engineers usually work under supervision of seasoned professionals and are gradually given more responsibility as their experience increases. Advanced degrees typically are required for research or faculty positions.

Responsibilities of a petroleum engineer job involve the creation and design of techniques, equipment and procedures for extracting oil and gas. They search for natural resource reservoirs and work in tandem with geologist to devise drilling methods. If you become a petroleum engineer, you will employ science and math tenets to address the problems of accessing these resources.


In addition to being employed in natural resource exploration and production, a petroleum engineer might work for banks in an advisory capacity. Banks that loan money to oil companies rely on engineers' expertise regarding production costs. Experienced engineers can work for research firms, endeavoring to devise methods to recover more oil and gas. Other opportunities involve being a consultant to government agencies. If you want to become a petroleum engineer, you will have a variety of career options from which to choose.

The work setting of this profession can be diverse. It can take place in an office, a lab or in an industrial plant. Other options include the outdoors at natural resource exploration and drilling locations. Petroleum engineers are sometimes stationed on offshore rigs, working irregular hours in order to oversee production.

Experienced members of this profession can advance to the highest places of management in their field. The need for this profession is dependent of the price of oil and gas. When prices are high, engineers are needed to look for reserves.


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