Day in the Life
degree in petroleum engineering can lead to many career paths.
While most work directly for oil and gas production companies, the
options for work are broad and cross over many industries.
Petroleum engineers focus on a wide range of projects and
activities. Some focus on production challenges, identifying, testing,
and implementing methods for improving oil and gas production.
They might focus on economics, helping a team determine the optimum
number of wells appropriate for a given operation. A petroleum engineer
may focus on safety issues, or maintenance support, identifying and
planning upgrades of equipment or systems. A petroleum engineer
may choose to teach, or to serve as a consultant to investors, banks, or
other financial services firms.
The type of job
a petroleum engineer has will often determine whether how much they
work inside or outside. Many petroleum engineers work on job
sites, but others work in an office setting. A consultant to
the financial industry, for example, may spend most of their time
working in an office setting. There are strong international travel opportunities for
petroleum engineers, as it is very much a global business. Many
companies have offices and sites in multiple countries and transfers
Almost all jobs in engineering require some sort of interaction with
coworkers. For example, a petroleum engineer might be working on a team
with geologists and contractors developing a design for a new
drilling operation. Whether they are working in a team situation, or just asking
for advice, most engineers have to have the ability to communicate and
work with other people. Engineers should be creative, inquisitive,
analytical, and detail-oriented. They should be able to work as part of
a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing.
Communication abilities are important because engineers often interact
with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.
Note: Some resources in this section are provided by the US Department
of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.