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Petroleum Engineer salary is one of the highest according to reports by PayScale and Glassdoor, which ranges within six figures per year. Some of the biggest factors that affect the Petroleum Engineer salary are the experience level, the previous employer, and location. In this article, we are going to discuss 3 specific paths for those who aim to reach the highest petroleum engineer wage, but first, let’s clarify what petroleum engineering is and the best ways people can start their careers.
What is Petroleum Engineering, and who is a Petroleum Engineer?
Petroleum Engineering is a field that focuses on the assessment of recoverable amounts of resources using detailed evaluation of the physical performance of gas, oil, and water within the porous rock at a very high pressure.
Petroleum Engineers are concerned with the activities that have a connection with the production of hydrocarbon which involves crude oil and natural gas. Most of them work hand in hand with geotechnical engineers and earth scientists in exploring the available oil and gas sources. With their combined efforts, they determine the accumulation of hydrocarbon that has a significant impact on the world’s economy.
Petroleum Engineers are responsible for researching and understanding different related fields like geology, geophysics, and petroleum. They need to know how to evaluate formations of things like artificial lift systems, completion of facilities for oil and gas, drilling, economics, engineering, reservoir simulation, proper logging, reservoir engineering, and the design of wells.
Before we dig into details about the salaries and top three jobs for a Petroleum Engineer, let’s know more about the job description itself.
Job Description of a Petroleum Engineer
Some of a Petroleum Engineer’s primary roles and responsibilities are to oversee how production is carried out, what methods are used for retrieving natural gas and oil from various types of resources, including underground sources. Most Petroleum Engineers work for oil companies while the others could work at universities or research facilities.
They also help in checking out some of the prospected drilling sites for new sources of natural gas. They create recommendations on drilling sites, making reports of the possible cost and creating feasibility studies for the prospected location. Also, part of their task is to design the drilling, prospecting, pumping and storing equipment.
For those engineers working at drilling sites, they mainly oversee the building and operation of subterranean drills, oil derricks and other equipment needed. After the well is established, a Petroleum Engineer will find ways and methods to improve oil and gas production. A Petroleum Engineer also designs and modifies tools if needed to achieve economic progress. That is not all, however. Engineers are expected to work a lot in the field; some even work at the sea specializing in drilling ships. They might even require some management skills.
Petroleum Engineers are also responsible for maintaining and building oil pipelines. That is why some are working for oil storage employers. One of their main tasks is to create a method to improve oil and gas production and identify the need for new tool design or modify the existing plans.
If Petroleum Engineering is the career you have in mind, you may take Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering or Petroleum Engineering course. A bachelor’s degree is required for this job.
Let’s now go into detail about the top 3 jobs for highest Petroleum Engineers salary.
Top 3 Jobs for Highest Petroleum Engineer Salary
1. Completion Engineers
They are responsible for effectively selecting the equipment that will best suit the drilling site in order to achieve the best possible extraction and produce hydrocarbon reserves. They work closely with the Drilling Engineers. They are also responsible for well testing, modeling completion performance, and performing stimulation technologies, which includes acidizing, fracturing, and water shut off.
Completion Engineers are responsible for optimizing workover design and operations, developing horizontal and multilateral well, determining primary and remedial cementing procedures together with the development and installation of tubes, packers, subsurface control and surveillance equipment, and preparing cost estimates and risk study. Completion Engineers work with tight gas formations. Therefore, they assume more responsibility for well testing.
If you are interested in a job in Completion Engineering or getting an advanced course on this subject, you may need to complete some prerequisites in mathematics, geology physics, and chemistry. It also requires knowledge of the core courses that include the Introduction of Petroleum Engineering systems, mechanics of materials, and thermodynamics. These courses will also prepare you for other related fields.
According to U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the estimated national salary for a Completion Engineer ranges from $99k - $196k annually. Averaging at $135k and highest salary I have seen was $206,000 per year, making it the highest Petroleum Engineer Salary.
2. Drilling Engineers
Drilling Engineers are those who determine the best way to drill oil and gas wells. They take into account significant factors and costs. Ensuring the safety and efficiency of the drilling process as well as minimizing the disruption of the environment are their main concerns.
They design and implement procedures in drilling wells safely and economically. They work closely with the contractors and ensure the health and safety of the workers, personnel, and the environment. They design well programs, casing strings, cementing plans, directional drilling projects, drilling fluid programs, drill strings and drill bit programs. They also specify the equipment, material, technology, ratings and grade to be used for drilling so as providing technical support and audit during the drilling process. They also perform cost estimates and analysis and develop contracts with vendors.
Although they are Petroleum Engineers, they may come from other technical disciplines like mechanical engineering, manufacturing or geology who may have been trained by an oil and gas company. They also have experience as rig hands, mud-loggers or mud engineers.
Drilling Engineers require a university degree in Petroleum Engineering or a closely related major. Having a license in all States and at least a five to seven years of experience in drilling operations is required for those who want to make high salaries.
According to data, the estimated median salary for a Drilling Engineer ranges from $92k - $160k annually, with the average salary at $114k per year, making it the 2nd highest Petroleum Engineer Salary.
3. Production Engineers
Production Engineers take over a project once a well is drilled completely. They are responsible for monitoring wells as well as supervising the oil and gas production. If the wells are not performing as they should be, the Production Engineers figure out ways to increase the amounts produced.
They are also responsible for the designing and selecting of subsurface equipment to produce oil and gas well fluids. They also design the equipment for the extraction. They develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gasses, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil. They develop plans to drill in oil and gas fields, evaluate the production of wells, connect a larger area of oil and gas deposits to a single well, and make sure that the oil field equipment is installed, maintained, and operating properly.
Those who search employment as Production Engineers have to be prepared to work full time. Often more than 40 hours per week, especially when going to the drilling site. However, they get a nice pay for their services.
For an entry-level Petroleum Engineering job, one requirement is a bachelor’s degree, which includes classes, lab work, and field studies in areas such as Engineering Principles, Geology, and Thermodynamics.
The annual salary for a Production Engineer ranges from $48k to $110k per year depending on experience, education, state and company. The highest salary I have seen was $114k per year, making it the 3rd highest Petroleum Engineer Salary. However, a company may offer you an even higher wage depending on current market state.