What Can I Do With A Petroleum Engineering Degree?

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Petroleum engineering is the act of producing or extracting of hydrocarbons for economic use. What, then, can you do with a degree in petroleum engineering? This article answers that question and more, exploring different schools where you can earn your petroleum engineering degree and what sorts of companies hire people with degrees in petroleum engineering.

What is Petroleum?

The word “petroleum” is often used in reference to oil and natural gas. It is composed mostly of the elements hydrogen and carbon, which when combined are referred to as hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are used by today’s society as fossil fuels to do things like power vehicles and heat homes.

Petroleum is formed as a result of the decomposition of organic materials usually buried underneath the surface of the earth. These organic materials typically consist of animals and plants. This transition from life to hydrocarbons does not happen overnight, however. It can take millions of years, which is why oil is becoming increasingly difficult to find.

How to Get a Petroleum Engineering Degree

If you are interested in helping to provide power that helps society function, then perhaps you should consider earning a degree in petroleum engineering. For any engineering degree, it is important that you concentrate on math and science in high school. Consult your guidance counselor for further advice on how you can best prepare for your higher education in petroleum engineering, and you should begin applying to colleges and universities early in your senior year of high school.

Located in Thibodaux, LA, Nicholls State University has outstanding engineering programs. The school offers both an Associates of Petroleum Services and Bachelors of Science in Petroleum Services, programs that cover petroleum engineering technology and safety management. Students earning their bachelors degree have the option of choosing a concentration in either Exploration and Production or Safety Technology, or they may choose to specialize in both areas within the petroleum industry. Students in either program at Nicholls State University learn proper safety techniques when it comes to drilling and handling hazardous materials. Students earning their bachelors degree take courses on government regulations related to petroleum services, economics within the industry, the ins and outs of oil production, and more in order to best prepare them for careers in the oil industry.

Texas Tech University offers both undergraduate and graduate programs for students interested in petroleum engineering. High mathematical skills are a must for these programs. Students should be prepared to tackle calculus upon entering the bachelors degree program and more advanced math courses for those interested in earning their masters degree and/or doctoral degree in petroleum engineering at Texas Tech University. Students also have the opportunity to combine their studies and earn both a bachelors degree and masters degree in petroleum engineering without having to apply to the masters program separately. All three programs help build research and problem solving skills. The school also requires its students to possess their own laptops, because some professors use the internet to share course information with students.

The Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston provides students with options to earn a Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering, Master of Petroleum Engineering, and Master of Petroleum Engineering accompanied by the completion of a thesis. The bachelors degree program covers the basics of topics like drilling, reservoir engineering, and petrophysics. The masters degree program takes a closer look at topics ranging from the origin and developments of oil and gas reservoirs to oil recovery processes. The faculty at the University of Houston aim to empower students to become the best they can be in order to be successful in the world of petroleum engineering.

Careers in Petroleum Engineering

What types of jobs can you get with a petroleum engineering degree? As a form of engineering, people who specialize in petroleum engineering often work in the oil industry. It also helps to have experience speaking a second language. This section provides examples of career paths you can choose from once you earn your degree in petroleum engineering or related field of engineering.

Entry Level Careers in Petroleum Engineering

With a bachelors degree in petroleum engineering and very minimal experience, you may find that you qualify for one or both of the positions described below. (Experience can also be gained through internships.)

Drilling Engineer

An entry level drilling engineer assists in designing specific machinery used when extracting gas or oil from under the surface of the earth. Drilling engineers may work on drilling sites, in labs performing research for new and more effective machinery designs, or offices in order to provide their knowledge gained by earning a degree in petroleum engineering. They possess excellent communication and problem solving skills as well as strong backgrounds in mathematics.

Entry level drilling engineers may earn over $50,000 annually, depending on education and experience levels.

Seismic Engineer

what jobs can you get with a petroleum engineering degree
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Seismic engineers often travel to mining sites to ensure the safety of the sites and also create safety programs and enforce safe work practices on the job. In addition, they are responsible for examining equipment before it is sent to job sites. They also keep close communication with clients as projects are being planned and carried out to be sure clients are fully satisfied. A bachelors degree in mechanical or petroleum engineering is particularly beneficial for a seismic engineer, as is excellent communication skills and the ability to pay close attention to detail.

Seismic engineers can earn around $55,000 or more each year, based on education and experience levels.

Advanced Careers in Petroleum Engineering

Once you gain more experience in the oil industry after earning a bachelors degree or if you have finally completed your masters degree or doctoral degree in petroleum engineering, many more career opportunities will become available to you. Some career options that you may qualify for are described here.

Production Engineer

A production engineer designs, evaluates, and monitors production of a company. This type of engineer also assists in the creation of a company budget to help lower operating costs and improve productivity. He or she is responsible for managing the production of the company’s gas and oil production. Production engineers typically possess a bachelors degree and/or masters degree in mechanical or petroleum engineering with a few years of experience in the oil industry. They have excellent leadership and communication skills, as well.

Production engineers can earn over $83,000 annually, based on education and experience levels.

Reservoir Engineer

Reservoir engineers spend their time researching locations of oil reservoirs using top-of-the-line technology and usually work for gas and oil companies anywhere around the world. These engineers are required to have completed an engineering degree from a program accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology and are often required to become licensed within the state in which they are employed. Higher paying positions for reservoir engineers typically require many years of experience and/or at least a masters degree in engineering. Petroleum engineering is particularly useful. Communication, mathematical, and technological skills are highly valued in applicants for this position, as it is important to be as precise as possible when locating oil reservoirs.

Reservoir engineers may earn over $120,000 annually, depending on education and experience levels.

Companies that Hire People with Petroleum Engineering Degrees

Upon earning your degree in petroleum engineering, you will then proceed to begin your job search. Maybe you will land a job at the company where you may have completed an internship. If that is not the case, however, there are companies out there with jobs available for people like you. It is just a matter of finding the right one for you. Below is a brief list of places that hire people with petroleum engineering degrees.

Chevron – locations around the world; hires positions for production engineers, equipment operations engineers, process engineers, etc.

Schlumberger – locations around the world; hires positions for drilling engineers, maintenance engineers, etc.

MET Laboratories, Inc. – headquarters in Baltimore, MD; hires positions for environmental simulation laboratory technicians and engineers, safety engineers, field engineers, medical equipment product safety engineers, etc.

Eclipse Resources – locations in OH and PA; hires positions for reservoir modelers, drilling managers, operations geologists, etc.

Questar Wexpro – headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT; hires positions for associate reservoir engineers, reservoir engineers, field operators, etc.

ConocoPhillips – headquarters in Houston, TX; hires positions for deepwater drilling managers, assistant engineers, facilities engineers, field production optimization engineers, etc.

The demand for petroleum is steadily increasing. Oil is essential to the functioning of countries around the world. Many companies are searching for skilled and dedicated individuals with engineering degrees to help locate new areas where they can access elements necessary to create and supply petroleum. If you think you have what it takes to slide your way into the oil industry, you should consider earning a degree in petroleum engineering.

Author: Rose Boettinger

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