Petroleum Engineers

What Petroleum Engineers Do

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

Work Environment

Petroleum engineers generally work in offices or at drilling and well sites. Travel is frequently required to visit these sites or to meet with other engineers, oilfield workers, and customers.

How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers must have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably petroleum engineering. However, a bachelor’s degree in mechanical, civil, chemical engineering may meet employer requirements. Employers also value work experience, so cooperative-education programs, in which students earn academic credit and job experience, are valuable as well.


The median annual wage for petroleum engineers was $137,330 in May 2020.

Job Outlook

Employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Oil prices will be a major determinant of employment growth. Higher prices can cause oil and gas companies to increase capital investment in new facilities and expand existing production operations, along with exploration.

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