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Career Profile: Petroleum Engineers

Devise methods to improve oil and gas extraction and production and determine the need for new or modified tool designs. Oversee drilling and offer technical advice.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 28,500 people employed as petroleum engineers in the United States. The median annual salary is $137,300. Entry level employees earn approximately $78,620 per year and senior employees earn approximately $208,000 (or more) per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Specify and supervise well modification and stimulation programs to maximize oil and gas recovery.
  • Monitor production rates, and plan rework processes to improve production.
  • Maintain records of drilling and production operations.
  • Analyze data to recommend placement of wells and supplementary processes to enhance production.
  • Assist engineering and other personnel to solve operating problems.
  • Direct and monitor the completion and evaluation of wells, well testing, or well surveys.
  • Develop plans for oil and gas field drilling, and for product recovery and treatment.
  • Assess costs and estimate the production capabilities and economic value of oil and gas wells, to evaluate the economic viability of potential drilling sites.
  • Confer with scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to resolve design, research, and testing problems.
  • Interpret drilling and testing information for personnel.
  • Coordinate activities of workers engaged in research, planning, and development.
  • Write technical reports for engineering and management personnel.
  • Evaluate findings to develop, design, or test equipment or processes.
  • Test machinery and equipment to ensure that it is safe and conforms to performance specifications.
  • Assign work to staff to obtain maximum utilization of personnel.
  • Simulate reservoir performance for different recovery techniques, using computer models.
  • Design and implement environmental controls on oil and gas operations.
  • Supervise the removal of drilling equipment, the removal of any waste, and the safe return of land to structural stability when wells or pockets are exhausted.
  • Inspect oil and gas wells to determine that installations are completed.
  • Coordinate the installation, maintenance, and operation of mining and oil field equipment.
  • Take samples to assess the amount and quality of oil, the depth at which resources lie, and the equipment needed to properly extract them.
  • Design or modify mining and oil field machinery and tools, applying engineering principles.
  • Conduct engineering research experiments to improve or modify mining and oil machinery and operations.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
28,500
Annual Openings:
2,100
Increase in Openings by 2030:
8%
Annual Salary Range:
$78,620 - $208,000
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's degree