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Petroleum engineer.

In the early 1900s Henry Ford made a significant contribution to us: the affordable car! This innovation allowed more people the opportunity to not only purchase a vehicle, but travel farther for jobs and pleasure. With this innovation, demand for fuel increased. Fast forward to the 21st century ... and we still have a huge demand for fuel for our vehicles. There are many types of engineers and chemists who work to improve and provide fuel quality for our everyday use. For this particular career connection, we will focus on petroleum engineers.

According the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (2016), the prospective job growth for petroleum engineers is growing about 10% faster than other careers. Petroleum engineers are projected to make an average of $129,900 a year. These engineers focus on ways to extract oil and gas deposits from within the earth. They also look to maximize oil and gas production from older wells. They spend a lot of time in research laboratories and at drilling sites. One thing to consider in this field is that job growth is connected to oil prices. Although primarily a male-dominated field, you will find women petroleum engineers--just not very many of them.

becoming a petroleum engineer

There are many great university programs to choose from if you want to become a petroleum engineer. According to the BLS (2016), students who are interested in this field are highly encouraged to participate in algebra, trigonometry, calculus, physics, chemistry, and biology courses in high school. In college, be prepared to take courses in engineering, geology, thermodynamics, and chemistry. Many colleges will also provide opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience working in drilling areas, which will make you more marketable when you graduate with a bachelor's degree.


U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition. Petroleum Engineers. Retrieved from

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons, Richard Banks, image creator. Contour_map_software_screen_snapshot_of_isopach_map_for_8500ft_deep_OIL_reservoir_with_a_Fault_line.jpg

Diana V. Cantu is Field Editor for the Children's Technology and Engineering journal and an instructor for the MonarchTeach Program at Old Dominion University. Diana can be reached at

Caption: Petroleum engineers will use images like these to determine where and how deep to drill a well. This is a contour map software for an 8500ft deep gas & oil reservoir in the Erath field, Vermilion Parish, Erath, Louisiana.

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Author:Cantu, Diana
Publication:Children's Technology and Engineering
Article Type:Occupation overview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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