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Let’s learn about petroleum engineering which is gaining popularity for its top salary ranking for past few years. One time, the price of crude oil dipped to minus territory which caused panic in the market. However, petroleum engineers are still heavily favored in the industrial fields. It is not an easy field of studying, but why don’t we get a degree and apply for Saudi Aramco.

What would I mainly learn in petroleum engineering?

Based on basic knowledge of earth science, undergraduate program of petroleum engineering forms its curriculum by applying engineering principles to the petroleum industry. For example, in a geology course, students understand the geological structures and conditions favorable to oil deposits. In addition to this essential foundation, school of petroleum engineering adds a petroleum engineering course which demonstrates the application of engineering principles to problem types and solutions used in the petroleum industry. School of petroleum engineering emphasizes that industry or research experience is important before graduation, and some schools include it for its prerequisite.

Petroleum engineering, how does its future look like?

Petroleum engineering is considered one of the highest paid and most promising majors in US. Economists expect that salary of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors will continuously increase compared to those majoring in social services or education. According to employment rate tracking for science and engineering majors from result of National Foundation for Natural Sciences, the unemployment rate for engineering majors is relatively low at 3.8%. The reason why petroleum engineering majors are highly paid is not only because they require advanced skills but also because they have a great impact on the economy. It is one of the majors with very high potential for the future, as it allows the graduates to work as a preferred professional technology job anywhere in the world, except that the graduates can have high paying job.

What job do petroleum engineering majors have and what kind of work will they do?

Most of the petroleum engineering graduates work as petroleum engineers. Petroleum engineers are categorized into three major categories of drilling engineers, production engineers and depository supervision engineers. Petroleum engineers study how to find oil and gas reservoirs beneath the Earth's surface, and develop the safest and most efficient way to bring up the resources to the surface. Petroleum engineers are involved in virtually every stage of the production process from oil excavation to refinement and distribution. Occasionally, geo-science related technologies are used to examine a variety of geological and engineering data to determine the most likely source of oil. Because it is an exploration to find oil deposits, petroleum engineers travel frequently or live overseas for a long period of time. In addition, with the recent increase in demand for alternative energy, future-oriented petroleum engineers are showing their talent in developing clean energy products that reduce harmful carbon emissions.

How much is average salary of petroleum engineers?

According to a report ‘Economic Value of College Majors’, published by Georgetown University Education and Vocational Center, petroleum engineering majors have annual salary of $136,000 and is currently the highest paying major in the United States. According to PayScale, petroleum engineering majors start their career with quite high starting salary of $94,600. Graduates in their mid-careers earn high salary of $175,500 on average.

Is it necessary to obtain a master's or doctoral degree to gain professional capability?

Even though most degree programs specializing in petroleum engineering are at the master's level, students can earn bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering. (All three schools below also offer bachelor's degree) However, many graduates look for a master's degree to qualify for a technical or management position or become an engineer equipped with more expert capabilities. Online master's degree programs are already gaining popularity among working professionals who wish to acquire practical skills and upgrade their careers, even from a remote location.


TOP 3 schools with petroleum engineering major


ㆍExpected tuition : $39,394

Ranked at top in petroleum engineering field, Texas A&M University was founded in 1876. The school also offers bachelor, master and doctoral degrees and programs in petroleum engineering degrees. In particular, the graduate programs are recognized for their excellent teaching and research, and currently there are students from 30 countries. The school values gaining industry or research experience before the students graduate from the school, and providing talents who are ready to become key players in the industry.

School feature : Texas A&M University offers curriculum that prepares students in fields related to the oil industry and subterranean fluid flow, especially for jobs covering drilling, production, reservoir engineering, and transportation of oil, gas and other subterranean resources. Petroleum engineering undergraduate program includes sufficient education in basic engineering sciences to prepare students for the application of engineering principles to the oil industry.

ㆍCorriculum are as follows.


Material structure

Introduction to drilling system


Expected tuition : $28,639

Louisiana State University is a public research institute located in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The school was founded in 1853 under the name ‘Louisiana State Education and Military Academy’ in a town currently known as Pineville, Louisiana. LSU is also known for its extensive research facilities, and it carries out approximately 800 research projects funded by organizations such as National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and U.S. National Institutes of Health.

School feature : LSU Petroleum engineering undergraduate program is a preparation course for students to participate in Petroleum Engineering Association as a student member and obtain a professional engineer license. The school strongly recommends its students to take Fundamental Engineering (FE) test in their junior year.

ㆍMajor curriculum are as follows.

Reservoir engineering

Fluid drilling and subterranean depository

Oil well design


Expected tuition : $39,322

University of Texas at Austin (UT, Austin) is a state university located in Austin, Texas, US, and is the largest and central university in UT system. On campus, there are 7 museums and 17 libraries, as well as several research institutes such as J. J. Pickle Research Campus and McDonald Observatory.

ㆍSchool feature : 25 professors, 20 faculty members, 515 students and 5,100 alumni are working closely to improve access to energy worldwide. Petroleum engineering undergraduate program receives $11.7 million annually from petroleum and geological system engineering research institutes.

Geology of petroleum

Petroleum production system

Reservoir simulation

Production engineering

List of colleges with petroleum engineering major

Texas Tech University

United States

Pennsylvania State University--University Park

United States

Stanford University

United States

Colorado School of Mines

United States

University of Tulsa

United States

University of Oklahoma

United States

University of Southern California (Viterbi)

United States

University of Houston (Cullen)

United States