Is a Petroleum Engineering Degree Right for You?

Petroleum engineering requires a strong interest in math and science and the motivation to succeed in these challenging disciplines. Petroleum engineers are employed by oil and gas and energy companies, where they are charged with locating and extracting hydrocarbons in the form of crude oil or natural gas. Petroleum engineering can be a lucrative career and most positions require only a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a related field, according to the BLS. However, petroleum engineers are often required to travel to drilling sites and live in parts of the country where oil and gas companies are headquartered.

Advice for Earning Your Petroleum Engineering Degree Online

A bachelor of science in an engineering field, specifically petroleum engineering, should meet the job requirements for most entry-level petroleum engineer positions. Bachelor’s degree programs in petroleum engineering, geological engineering, and other related disciplines are widely available online. You may also be able to find five- or six-year programs that combine a bachelor’s and master’s degree. Before enrolling, you should confirm that the institution is accredited by national or regional accreditation commission. This is important because it ensures you receive the quality education you need to succeed in the field. You might also consider online programs that allow you to set your own pace if you need to work while completing your degree.

Required Courses

Online petroleum engineering programs are designed to prepare you for a professional career. You will take general education courses in math and science as well as writing and composition, English, and social science. Beyond that, advanced courses in physics, engineering disciplines, geology, environmental engineering, and more will equip you with the knowledge you need to excel as a petroleum engineer. With experience and the necessary education, you should be able to choose the best technologies and strategies for maximum extraction of resources in ways that are cost-effective, safe, and environmentally sound.

Common Career Paths

A degree in petroleum engineering could take you in several different directions. However, many of these career paths require years of experience and advanced degrees, such as scientific research, consulting, or academic teaching. Petroleum engineering is a specific discipline targeting the oil and gas industry, so most bachelor’s degree holders go on to petroleum engineer positions at various oil and gas corporations. Read on to learn more:

  • Petroleum Engineer

    Petroleum engineers are trained to find hydrocarbon resources (oil and gas) and design safe and efficient ways to extract them from their reservoirs. They need advanced engineering and technical expertise in order to evaluate extraction sites and assign the best method for that project. In some cases, they may need to develop new technologies for harvesting resources. They also oversee the maintenance and operation of drilling equipment, well testing, and environmental compliance, in some cases. They often work with geologists and environmental engineers.

    Petroleum engineers must have at least a bachelor’s degree in an engineering field while many also hold graduate degrees in petroleum engineering. However, a bachelor’s degree should be sufficient education to qualify for most entry-level positions. Job growth is expected to continue at an average rate through 2020, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. But despite average growth, petroleum engineers benefit from high earning potential. According to the BLS, the Society of Petroleum Engineers reported the mean average salary at $130,800 for 2010, a 5% increase from 2009.


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