Skip navigation

Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering Career Opportunities

  • What do petroleum engineers do?

    Graduates of petroleum and natural gas engineering programs work as petroleum engineers, mining and geological engineers, environmental engineers, and geoscientists with median annual salaries ranging from $78,470 to $114, 080,  according to  the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The BLS projects healthy growth rates in all four occupations through 2020, both in Pennsylvania and nationally, according to the newly released 2010 to 2020 occupational projections. The development of the Marcellus Shale (natural gas producing) region is having a positive impact on the job opportunities for professional engineers and related professions with the BLS projecting a 75 percent increase in demand for petroleum engineers in Pennsylvania alone.

    The central job of a petroleum and natural gas engineer is to safely and effectively extract oil and gas from deep subsurface rock formations, which is known as a reservoir. To achieve that, petroleum and natural gas engineers need to characterize or describe the reservoir properties, design the well trajectory and the drilling process, and manage well production. With a PNGE bachelor’s degree, graduates are able to work in each of these three areas:

    Reservoir Engineering

    Reservoir Engineers utilize computer modeling techniques and specialized calculations to evaluate the reserve of oil and gas in the subsurface, the 3-D distribution of recoverable oil and gas before and after production, and the best way to extract it. Reservoir engineers work closely with petroleum geologists, geophysicists, and other types of engineers (e.g., drilling engineers and production engineers) to make short-term and long-term plans for maximizing the value of both exploration and production properties.

    Drilling Engineering

    Drilling Engineers work on oil/gas rig drilling with tasks that include everything from designing the well, to choosing the drilling muds, operating the drilling process, to the completion of the well. Drilling engineers work as a part of a multi-disciplinary team and are responsible to ensure that the drilling operations are safe, environmentally friendly, and cost-efficient.

    Production Engineering

    Production Engineers take over the well site after the drilling operations are accomplished. They handle the daily management of oil/gas production wells with techniques such as production monitoring, production rate control, water injection, well stimulation, etc. Their primary goal  is to design the most effective and safe plan to produce oil and gas based on the subsurface geological properties, oil/gas production history, and the recovering techniques. 

    Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineers find excellent careers in the following sectors:

    • Government positions such as in the Department of Energy and national labs
    • Oil and gas operating companies
    • Oil and gas service companies
    • Academic and research institutes such as universities
    • Others

    As a petroleum and natural gas engineer you can experience a variety of work environments including data analysis, design and modeling in an office; drilling and production operation in the field;  drilling and production monitoring in the office and even from your own home;  education at a university or in training companies; and others including management, marketing and consulting. In addition, you could even find yourself designing new equipment or developing new techniques resulting in your own small business in the petroleum and natural gas industry. Furthermore your workplace could be most any where in the world.  To the well-qualified petroleum and natural gas engineer opportunities abound.