Looking to cash in on some of the opportunities the shale gas industry now affords, students are taking up a major in petroleum engineering. A petroleum engineer “understands the drilling aspects, he understands the reservoir management. Whereas the oil and gas industry used to rely on a patchwork of skills from civil, chemical and mechanical engineers, companies are increasingly in search of trained petroleum engineers who specialize in oil field operations,” said Steve Benson, chairman of the North Dakota University Department of Petroleum Engineering. “They’re just equipped well.”
When students in the major are not available, oil and gas firms will look to recruit from other engineering disciplines, but petroleum engineering is quickly becoming a requirement in the field.
“There are a few exceptions where other engineering disciplines such as chemical, mechanical or civil might be considered with training, but by and large, a petroleum engineering degree is preferred,” said Steve Woodhead, manager of university affairs for Chevron Corp.
To meet industry needs, many of the nation’s existing engineering programs are expanding their course offerings, faculty numbers and class sizes. After graduating, petroleum engineering students are well-positioned to earn a starting salary between $80,000 and $100,000, depending on the company. According to Pay Scale on 6 April 2012, the national salary data information tells us Petroleum Engineers total pay range is from 61,559- $199,961. Currently, 92% of petroleum engineers are males and females make up 8%.
Fuel to work
- The petroleum engineering field offers one of the highest salary rates.
- Graduates entering the industry typically earn salaries of $90,000 to $100,000 a year after completing a three-month probation.
- Salaries are expected to increase in proportion to rising fuel costs.
- Petroleum engineering students are immediately employable upon graduation, with most students finding employment before graduation.
- There’s an inadequate supply of petroleum engineering graduates, with one international survey saying 12,000 more petroleum engineers and geoscientists are needed by 2012.
- Graduates often find employment with international companies.
- Petroleum engineers are among the best-travelled professionals in the world.