Petroleum Engineer Job Description

Petroleum engineers work in oil extraction facilities to ensure operations are safe and environmentally sound.

red and grey oil platform in sea

Petroleum engineers work with oil and gas companies to extract natural resources from the earth. A petroleum engineer may either help find these resources or develop methods for extracting and managing them once they have been located. For example, a petroleum engineer working on the research and development team might use physics principles to brainstorm new ideas for oil extraction techniques. These engineering principles might include thermodynamics and fluid dynamics. The petroleum engineer may also work with other engineers designing the machinery needed to bring these new extraction ideas to market. Once a new oil or gas well has been located, this petroleum engineer might coordinate tests of its properties using equipment such as spectrometers and cameras.


Introduction Petroleum engineering is the application of engineering principles to the exploration, extraction and production of oil and natural gas. Petroleum engineers typically work with large teams of other engineers to extract or locate oil and gas reserves. After finding a potential site for oil drilling, petroleum engineers will help plan the location of the machinery needed to drill deep into the earth in search of reservoirs of crude oil or natural gas.


The oil and gas industry extracts natural resources from the earth using a variety of methods, both conventional and unconventional. Petroleum engineers can either work on new ideas for extraction techniques or on ways to refine current extraction processes. The petroleum engineer may also work with mechanical engineers designing the machinery needed to bring these new extraction ideas to market. Once a well has been drilled, the petroleum engineer may conduct tests to determine its potential as a source of oil or natural gas.


The petroleum engineering career includes many specialized fields, including exploration and production, reservoir engineering, drilling technology, well logging and management. Although there are no standard educational requirements for entry into this field, employers do expect a Bachelors or higher degree in engineering from an accredited institution. Some employers require a Master's degree in this field. Most of the on-the-job training will occur once the engineer starts work, as each company has its own design and engineering standards for their operations.


The petroleum engineering career also offers specialties within it for professionals who wish to focus on specific issues or geographic regions. Some of these fields include geochemistry, reservoir management and petroleum economics.


An individual interested in entering a career as a petroleum engineer should have extensive experience working with computers and attention to detail. A love of science is also helpful in this field. Petroleum engineers typically work 50-60 hours per week during regular weekday office hours, but may need to work more hours during deadlines and project completion times.

Statistics on Petroleum Engineers


  • Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. (
  • The largest employers of petroleum engineers were as follows: Oil and gas extraction 34%, Management of companies and enterprises 18%, Support activities for mining 14%, Petroleum and coal products manufacturing 7%, Engineering services 7%. (
  • The lowest 10 percent earned less than $78,620, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000. (
  • Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of petroleum engineers (53%) worked in oil and gas extraction as of 2012. (
  • 14% provided support activities for mining. (

Articles On Petroleum Engineers


Petroleum Engineers: Occupational Outlook Handbook: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. (


Petroleum Engineer  

Petroleum engineers design equipment that extracts oil from reservoirs, which are deep pockets of rock that contain oil and gas... (


How to Become a Petroleum Engineer (


Petroleum Engineers (


Petroleum engineering - Wikipedia (


Society of Petroleum Engineers

Society of Petroleum Engineers is the largest member organization of oil and gas professionals worldwide. (


What does a petroleum engineer do?

A petroleum engineer is someone who locates reservoirs of natural gas and crude oil beneath the earth's surface, and then determines if the effort of extracting the product will be worth the time and money for the company he/she works for. After the decision has been made to drill, it is the job of... (


Petroleum Engineer Salary

The average salary for a Petroleum Engineer is $100,915. (


O*NET - Petroleum Engineers (


Petroleum Engineers at My Next Move (


Petroleum Engineer Jobs and Careers (

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