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What is a Petroleum Engineer?

Position Description 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.

List of Petroleum Engineer Job Duties

  • Assist engineering and other personnel to solve operating problems.
  • Analyze data to recommend placement of wells and supplementary processes to enhance production.
  • Coordinate activities of workers engaged in research, planning, and development.
  • 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.
  • Confer with scientific, engineering, and technical personnel to resolve design, research, and testing problems.
  • Write technical reports for engineering and management personnel.

What a Petroleum Engineer Should Know

These are the skills Petroleum Engineers say are the most useful in their careers:

Reading Comprehension: Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Active Listening: Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.

Speaking: Talking to others to convey information effectively.

Complex Problem Solving: Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.

Writing: Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Critical Thinking: Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.

  • Project Reservoir Engineer
  • Operations Manager
  • Well Logging Captain
  • Facilities Engineer
  • Supplier Quality Engineer (SQE)

Is There Job Demand for Petroleum Engineers?

There were about 33,700 jobs for Petroleum Engineer in 2016 (in the United States). New jobs are being produced at a rate of 15.1% which is above the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 5,100 new jobs for Petroleum Engineer by 2026. The BLS estimates 2,800 yearly job openings in this field.


The states with the most job growth for Petroleum Engineer are Wyoming, North Dakota, and Colorado. Watch out if you plan on working in California, Alaska, or West Virginia. These states have the worst job growth for this type of profession.

How Much Does a Petroleum Engineer Make?

The salary for Petroleum Engineers ranges between about $74,270 and $208,000 a year.


Petroleum Engineers who work in Indiana, New Jersey, or Texas, make the highest salaries.

Below is a list of the median annual salaries for Petroleum Engineers in different U.S. states.

State Annual Mean Salary
Alabama $115,180
Alaska $161,290
Arizona $137,830
California $142,430
Colorado $153,640
Hawaii $121,050
Illinois $131,510
Indiana $198,590
Kansas $118,160
Louisiana $145,880
Montana $141,530
New Jersey $194,340
North Dakota $124,880
Ohio $94,270
Oklahoma $146,990
Pennsylvania $122,510
Texas $169,010
West Virginia $111,400
Wyoming $115,250

Tools & Technologies Used by Petroleum Engineers

Although they’re not necessarily needed for all jobs, the following technologies are used by many Petroleum Engineers:

  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Word
  • Microsoft Office
  • Microsoft PowerPoint
  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Web browser software
  • Python
  • Microsoft Access
  • SAP
  • Microsoft Project
  • Autodesk AutoCAD
  • Microsoft Visio
  • The MathWorks MATLAB
  • SAS
  • Linux
  • IBM Notes
  • R
  • Oracle software
  • Enterprise resource planning ERP software
  • Google Analytics

Becoming a Petroleum Engineer

Individuals working as a Petroleum Engineer have obtained the following education levels:


How many years of work experience do I need?


Where Petroleum Engineers Work


The table below shows some of the most common industries where those employed in this career field work.



Image Credit: via CC0 Public Domain

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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