There is much to consider when contemplating becoming a petroleum engineer. There are those who plan early and start taking classes such as algebra, trigonometry, chemistry and more while they are in high school to give them a head start on the education needed in college. Having a basic understanding of math helps, so if you weren’t blessed with a brilliant math teacher in school, make it a point to read up on these subjects as you prepare for a career.
Entry Level Petroleum Engineer
One must have specific college credits for a career as a petroleum engineer. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, at least a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering and preferably Petroleum Engineering is required. However, a degree in chemical or mechanical engineering may be acceptable in some cases. Education requirements involve classroom studies, labs and field study. Classes will include engineering principles, geology, thermodynamics, instrumentation, science, biology, physics, algebra, trigonometry, calculus and more. Being able to design and develop different types of equipment for different environments for the extraction of gas and oil requires an array of knowledge and skills, including creativity and outside the box thinking.
Entry Level Petroleum Engineer Jobs
Landing an entry-level position will depend on whether you have completed your education or are still in school, not to mention your willingness to relocate if necessary. If one is not yet qualified but in the process of pursuing their degree he or she can apply for an internship opportunity. An internship will normally last 10-12 weeks. Students will be exposed to key areas such as project development, research, and operations. They would work under a mentor from different areas of expertise.
If a student’s education has been completed and they are looking to land an entry-level petroleum engineer position they are required to undergo extensive on the job training and will work under a senior engineer in either drilling, production or reservoir engineering.
It is important to note that proper licensing and certification is required by law to be a Petroleum Engineer. There is more information at the Society of Petroleum Engineers website. All states within the United States requires a degree from an ABET accredited engineer program, a passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering examination, a minimum of 4 years relevant work experience and a passing score on the Professional Engineering examination. Several states require continuing education in order to keep their license. Additional certifications can be obtained for advanced positions or to move into management positions. They may also have opportunities to branch off in other areas of engineering.
There are four classifications of petroleum engineers once education has been completed.
- A Completion Engineer will develop the best way to finish building a well for flow of gas and oil from under the Earth’s surface.
- A Drilling Engineer ensures the safety of all operations, the processes, and ensures efficiency and monitoring of the processes for minimal damage and disruptiveness to the environment.
- A Production Engineer will monitor the gas and oil production as well as develop ways to increase productivity of the flow.
- A Reservoir Engineer will estimate how much gas and oil can be recovered from the underground deposits and monitor all operations.
According to Carla Carvajal who now works for Noble Energy, flexibility in career paths (not merely location) is another key to success. She says changing course is sometimes necessary. “When I graduated, I started in seismic processing and imaging. It was a good experience, but I realized it was not my thing, so I switched to reservoir interpretation.” After pursuing graduate study, she advanced, landing a position as a geophysicist.” She also cited meeting professionals from the Colorado School of Mines’ Reservoir Characterization Project as a turning point in her career, proving the value of networking in every circumstance possible.”
Prepare Yourself for the Challenge Ahead
Depending on the level of education, degree held, and any additional credentials obtained, different companies may offer different types and levels of entry-level petroleum engineering jobs in the United States. Incumbency will generally depend on the candidate’s level of knowledge as well as the size of the company in question.
Self-preparation in gaining the best education, experience, exposure and knowledge will give a potential candidate the best possible career start in the field of petroleum engineering. Why wait? Let’s start learning about this lucrative career choice today!