Petroleum Engineering

2022 Petroleum Engineering Degree Guide

Most of our modern equipment relies on petroleum for fuel. Although scientists are working on creating new forms of energy, our society still relies heavily on petroleum. If you would like to participate in finding and extracting this precious resource, consider majoring in Petroleum Engineering.

As a Petroleum Engineering major, you will take classes in applied mathematics, geology, thermodynamics, and engineering principles. These classes will equip you with the skills to drill and collect petroleum and maintain rigs to ensure we have enough gas to complete our day-to-day tasks.

Petroleum Engineering Degrees Decreasing

#223 Most Popular Major
1.3k Degrees Awarded
-26.0% Increase in Graduates

Petroleum Engineering was the 223rd most popular major in the 2020-2021 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 1,256 degrees in this year alone. This 326 less than the prior year, a decrease of 26.0%.

Our 2023 Best Petroleum Engineering Schools ranking analyzes 22 of these schools to determine the best overall colleges for petroleum engineering students. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of petroleum engineering programs later in this article.

Best Petroleum Engineering Schools by Degree

Requirements for Getting a Degree in Petroleum Engineering

Strong math and analytical skills will help students succeed in this field. Each drilling location is different, meaning engineers must be able to develop a drilling plan, adjust for issues, and determine any problems that may arise. Creativity and problem-solving skills will allow engineers to accomplish these tasks. Students must also be able to work in teams with a variety of other professionals.

Petroleum Engineering is a full time job that often has long hours. Many work between 50-60 hours a week while traveling back and forth from drilling locations. While at a drilling location, petroleum engineers rotate being on duty every 84 hours.

Like most engineering professions, petroleum engineering employers require previous experience. Students are able to gain this experience through internships or cooperative engineering programs, which allow students to earn credit while working.

Most entry-level jobs require applicants to have a bachelor's degree. However, if you wish to rise within the company or want to conduct research and development, you may have to receive your master's degree. Some colleges offer 5-year programs that end with the receiving of both degrees.

Petroleum Engineering Degree Program Entry Requirements

petroleum engineering degree applicants generally need have finished high school or their GED. Many schools may also have GPA and SAT/ACT score minimums that must be met. Once you obtain your degree, additional petroleum engineering certifications required to pursue a career in this field.

Types of Petroleum Engineering Degrees

There are various different levels of petroleum engineering degrees. Petroleum Engineering programs offered by schools range from a to a , which is the highest petroleum engineering degree you can get. The time it takes to complete a petroleum engineering degree varies depending on the program.

Degree Credit Requirements Typical Program Length
Associate Degree 60-70 credits 2 years
Bachelor’s Degree 120 credits 4 years
Master’s Degree 50-70 credits 1-3 years
Doctorate Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation At least 4 years

A bachelor's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to petroleum engineering, with approximately 49.5% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for petroleum engineering workers below.

Level of Education Percentage of Workers
Bachelor’s Degree 60.0%
Master’s Degree 17.8%
Doctoral Degree 10.1%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate 5.4%
Post-Doctoral Training 3.0%

About 99.5% of workers in careers related to petroleum engineering obtain at least bachelor's degrees. See the chart below for the most common degree level workers in petroleum engineering have received.


The education level required is different depending on the petroleum engineering career you are seeking.

Career Opportunities for Petroleum Engineering Majors

Average Number of Jobs
$83.8k Average Starting Salary
8% Growth Job Outlook 2016-26

A degree in Petroleum Engineering often leads graduates to a career in oil and gas extraction. Graduates currently hold jobs with oilrig companies, mining companies, and oil product manufacturers. Since large petroleum sources are outside the United States, some graduates have pursued careers in other countries.

Solid Growth Projected for Petroleum Engineering Careers

Want a job when you graduate with your petroleum engineering degree? Petroleum Engineering careers are expected to grow 8.4% between 2016 and 2026.

The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to petroleum engineering.

Occupation Name Projected Jobs Expected Growth
Architectural and Engineering Managers 190,000 5.5%
Engineering Professors 54,600 14.7%
Petroleum Engineers 38,800 15.1%

How Much Money Do Petroleum Engineering Grads Make?

Recently graduated petroleum engineering students earned an average of $83,778 in 2019-2020. Earnings can range from as low as $69,557 to as high as $156,753. As you might expect, salaries for petroleum engineering graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.


Highest Paid Petroleum Engineering Careers

Salaries for petroleum engineering graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top highest paying careers petroleum engineering grads often go into.

Occupation Name Median Average Salary
Petroleum Engineers $156,370
Architectural and Engineering Managers $148,970
Engineering Professors $113,680

Getting Your Petroleum Engineering Degree

With over 78 different petroleum engineering degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased petroleum engineering school rankings to help you with this.

Study Areas in Petroleum Engineering

One of 40 majors within the Engineering area of study, Petroleum Engineering has other similar majors worth exploring.

Related Major Annual Graduates
Mechanical Engineering 46,178
Electrical Engineering 28,844
Civil Engineering 21,388
Computer Engineering 17,987
Chemical Engineering 12,917

View All Petroleum Engineering Related Majors >


More about our data sources and methodologies.

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