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Petroleum Engineering Major

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Petroleum Engineering

386 Master's Degrees Annually
146 Doctor's Degrees Annually
#163 in Popularity (Master's)
$148,970 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Petroleum Engineering Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many petroleum engineering graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Master’s Degree 386
Doctor’s Degree 146
Graduate Certificate 5

What Petroleum Engineering Majors Need to Know

People with careers related to petroleum engineering were asked what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. They weighted these areas on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the highest.

Knowledge Areas for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Petroleum Engineering majors often go into careers in which the following knowledge areas are important:

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  • Engineering and Technology - Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Mathematics - Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
  • Computers and Electronics - Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Design - Knowledge of design techniques, tools, and principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.

Skills for Petroleum Engineering Majors

A major in petroleum engineering prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • 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.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Writing - Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.

Abilities for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a petroleum engineering student include the following:

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  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Inductive Reasoning - The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
  • Written Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.

What Can You Do With a Petroleum Engineering Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with petroleum engineering:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Architectural and Engineering Managers 5.5% $140,760
Engineering Professors 14.7% $101,720
Petroleum Engineers 15.1% $137,170

Who Is Getting a Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering?

386 Master's Degrees Annually
20% Percent Women
13% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This major tends to be male dominated. About 80% of recent graduates are men.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of petroleum engineering majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Petroleum Engineering Students with Master's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 20
Black or African American 8
Hispanic or Latino 18
White 68
International Students 264
Other Races/Ethnicities 8

Geographic Diversity

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in Petroleum Engineering. About 68.4% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • India
  • Canada
  • Kuwait

How Much Do Petroleum Engineering Majors Make?

Master’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a master’s degree in petroleum engineering have a median salary of $72,200 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $72,200 (25th percentile) and $72,200 (75th percentile).

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It’s important to note that just because the people reporting these salaries have a degree in petroleum engineering, it does not mean that they are working in a job related to their degree.

Salaries According to BLS

Petroleum Engineering majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $113,680 to $156,370 (25th to 75th percentile). This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Petroleum Engineering Major  ( 113680 to 156370 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with petroleum engineering may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

How much schooling do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to petroleum engineering have obtained the following education levels.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 0.7%
Bachelor’s Degree 60.0%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 5.4%
Master’s Degree 17.8%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 3.0%
Doctoral Degree 10.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.0%

Online Petroleum Engineering Programs

In the 2018-2019 academic year, 30 schools offered some type of petroleum engineering program. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 1 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 0 0
Certificate (2-4 Years) 0 0
Associate’s Degree 0 0
Bachelor’s Degree 2 1
Post-Baccalaureate 1 0
Master’s Degree 23 5
Post-Master’s 2 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 15 1
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 0 0
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 1 0

Is a Degree in Petroleum Engineering Worth It?

The median salary for a petroleum engineering grad is $148,970 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 273% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $2,181,400 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to petroleum engineering.

Major Number of Grads
Electrical Engineering 12,934
Mechanical Engineering 9,668
Civil Engineering 6,961
Computer Engineering 5,021
Biomedical Engineering 4,057
General Engineering 3,449
Industrial Engineering 3,359
Chemical Engineering 2,897
Systems Engineering 2,639
Aerospace & Aeronautical Engineering 2,163
Materials Engineering 1,863
Other Engineering 1,859
Operations Research 1,273
Environmental Engineering 1,117
Engineering Science 451
Nuclear Engineering 440
Manufacturing Engineering 412
Agricultural Engineering 338
Robotics Engineering 333
Construction Engineering 312
Engineering Physics 282
Architectural Engineering 247
Polymer & Plastics Engineering 205
Geoscience Engineering 176
Engineering Mechanics 168
Ocean Engineering 154
Mining Engineering 142
Textile Engineering 106
Biological Engineering 63
Metallurgical Engineering 51
Marine Engineering 48
Ceramic Engineering 30
Surveying Engineering 21
Electromechanical Engineering 17
Paper Science & Engineering 9
Biochemical Engineering 6
Forest Engineering 0

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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