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How to Become a Petroleum Engineer

Bachelor's degree

Petroleum engineers commonly have a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering. Some may earn their bachelor's degree in chemical or mechanical engineering as well. There are numerous cooperative programs available for students to earn credit and structured experience on the job. Employers highly value experience.

Education & Training

High school students who are considering pursuing this career ideally should study calculus, trigonometry, algebra, physics, chemistry and biology.

A bachelor's degree is required for most entry-level positions. These programs take 4 years to complete. They incorporate field work, laboratory studies and classroom. Courses covered include: thermodynamics, geology and engineering principles. The majority of universities and colleges offer cooperative programs. This setting is ideal for students to finish their studies and gain practical experience simultaneously.

There are special university and college programs offering a 5 year mechanical or chemical engineering degree. Graduates finish with both a bachelor's degree and their master's degree. Certain employers prefer individuals who have completed their graduate degree. Those interested in becoming an instructor at university or spending time in research and development require a graduate degree. ABET accredited programs in petroleum engineering are the most sought after.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

If petroleum engineers wish to serve the public directly with their services, they need to have a license. Professional engineers or PEs have to obtain the following requirements in order to become licensed:

A) Earning a degree from an ABET accredited program

B) Have at least 4 years of relevant work experience

C) A passing score on the FE or Fundamentals of Engineering exam

D) A passing score on the PE or Professional Engineering exam

Immediately after earning their bachelor's degree, the FE exam is eligible to be taken. Those who successfully pass this exam are known as EIs engineer interns or EITs or engineers in training. Once enough work experience has been obtained, EIs and EITs can go on to take the second exam known as the Principles and Practice of Engineering.

A variety of places require that in order to maintain licensure, continuing education requirements are met. The majority of places will accept non local licensure as long as those requirements meet or exceed the local requirements.

Certification is available through the Society of Petroleum Engineers. In order to become certified, these engineers must have membership within the Society; pass certain qualifications and an exam.

Skills and Qualities that will Help

Analytical skills: Petroleum engineers need to continually assess intricate plans for drilling purposes. They must have the ability to anticipate potential complications or flaws prior to the company agreeing to spend money and committing people to do the job.

Creativity: There are numerous ways petroleum engineers can extract gas and oil. Every new drill site potentially presents issues to be overcome. These individuals need to ask the correct questions in order to access possible gas and oil deposits prior to drilling.

Math skills: The principals of calculus are often utilized in this field. Advanced math is relied on through every phase of troubleshooting, design and analysis.

Problem-solving skills: Issues with drilling plans need to be identified by petroleum engineers since these expensive endeavors can be expensive. Having the capacity to address any upcoming issues as they arise is key to their overall success.

How To Advance

The majority of entry-level engineers work under the supervision of more experienced engineers. Within large companies, formal training may be provided for new engineers. Once experience and knowledge is gained, engineers acquire more independence and the ability to tackle more difficult projects. They learn how to perfect their decision making skills, solve issues and develop their own designs.

Petroleum engineers may eventually advance to supervise a team of technicians and engineers. Some individuals may move into managerial posts over time.

Using their engineering background can be beneficial for those who move into sales. They have the unique ability to converse about the technical aspects of equipment with potential customers. As well, they have intimate knowledge regarding use, installation and product planning.