We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What does a Petroleum Engineer do?

By L.K. Blackburn
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At Practical Adult Insights, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A petroleum engineer is employed by an oil company to design, test, and implement methods to extract petroleum products from the earth and sea floor. These engineers are involved in locating the dig site, building the machines that perform the extraction, and overseeing the removal and processing of the petroleum itself. They work closely with geologists and other petroleum company team members to safely execute oil and gas extraction and refinement.

The development of tools, machines, and equipment used to extract petroleum products is part of the job description. Operating software used to control and run the machines is also frequently written with contributions by a petroleum engineer. On site, machines used to remove oil and gas are often operated by engineers themselves. Experienced engineers may oversee individuals and teams employed on a job site, and manage a job site's overall production.

Engineers develop methods to safely and efficiently extract as much oil and gas as possible while working to keep costs low. This typically includes a financial analysis to make sure the operation is profitable to incur the expenses of removing the crude materials, relative to the money earned from selling the refined products. A petroleum engineer uses methods of data organization and analysis to accomplish this task, and may present the research and report findings to company management to aid with the decision making process.

Field work and extensive travel are both usually necessary for this profession, as much of the job may need to be completed on-site at remote oil and gas repositories that are located in many different regions and countries. Job requirements will vary depending on the company and individual position, and some work may be completed in an office or laboratory environment. Engineers also work in academia, teaching university classes and conducting research on new methods to locate and remove petroleum products.

Education requirements to become a petroleum engineer include earning an undergraduate engineering degree from a college or university. Some positions and companies may require additional education in the form of a master's degree or doctorate in petroleum engineering. It is important for engineers to have a strong background in geology, physics, mathematics, and computer programming. Career progression typically involves starting out working for a company building equipment and conducting field research, and then moving up to the location, operation, planning, and management of a job site.

Practical Adult Insights is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By anon959286 — On Jul 03, 2014

I don't think petroleum engineering field is going downhill at all. There might be fewer oil reserves in the world right now but the demand for fuel is constantly on the rise. If you are becoming a petroleum engineer, then you will be in good shape for a long time to come.

By anon352862 — On Oct 25, 2013

Will the future of a person working this job be safe and economically good?

By pastanaga — On Jan 08, 2013

@KoiwiGal - I think it's more likely that we'll keep exploiting petroleum and just figure out ways to catch carbon so that we don't upset the weather too much.

And even if we aren't straight up burning it for fuel, most of our plastics are made from petroleum as well. I really don't think this is a career that's in any danger of going away.

By KoiwiGal — On Jan 08, 2013

@Ana1234 - I don't think they are going to run out any time soon, no matter what the doomsayers are predicting. Now that they have managed to start extracting petroleum from fraking, it's opened up a lot more areas to exploit.

What I'm hoping is that we will turn to more and more cleaner energy sources, so that people won't need to dig up so much petroleum in the first place. Even if we don't run out soon, we are going to run out eventually. The world is finite and it's not like we're leaving a lot of forests around to create more petroleum. And climate change is such a dangerous thing. I'm really hoping that, in the coming decades, humanity will put its collective genius together and come up with different ways to solve its energy problems. No offense but I'd prefer more petroleum engineering jobs to go up in smoke.

By Ana1234 — On Jan 07, 2013

I'm kind of torn about the idea of being a petroleum engineer. On the one hand, it's an important job and it would make a lot of money. On the other hand it seems pretty obvious by now that we aren't really doing ourselves any favors by using oil for everything.

Partly I'm worried that it's morally wrong to study towards doing this kind of work, and partly I'm worried that the job itself won't even be around for much longer. If they run out of natural reserves, I imagine there will be fewer and fewer jobs in this field.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

Practical Adult Insights, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.