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'warning' to petroleum engineering students

algorithmicalgorithmic 12 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
edited July 2013 in Engineering Majors
[url=http://costofcollege.****/2013/02/19/a-warning-to-petroleum-engineering-students/]A warning to petroleum engineering students | Cost of College[/url]

Has anybody seen this ? I am still on the fence about majoring in PETE . This is a bit scary
edited July 2013
25 replies
Post edited by algorithmic on
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Replies to: 'warning' to petroleum engineering students

  • Trinity7Trinity7 428 replies6 postsRegistered User Member
    You may want to find the contacts of TAMU's industry advisors and get a real understanding of the situation. Also the person who wrote this memo at TAMU might be able to give you additional underlying details.

    Perhaps, you may consider another major like ME and a minor in another area (CSE?) to spread the risk.

    Thanks for bringing this to everyone's attention & good luck.
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  • algorithmicalgorithmic 12 replies3 postsRegistered User New Member
    Yea that is a good idea . I will look into it - hopefully I can get someone to respond via email . This is my major concern with the PETE major. Not so worried about commodity pricing / supply etc -- just the rate at which other people are rushing into the major . Although I am confident in my ability to compete , if the job market is saturated by the time I graduate I'm sure the salaries will decrease ..

    My other choice is Computer Science - and that one is a rollercoaster also.. Guess I just have to roll the dice
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77092 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Yes, the job market in a given field may be different four years from now.

    Computer science had some examples. 1998 frosh entering in the tech boom graduated into the depths of the tech bubble crash. 2002 frosh entering in the tech bubble crash graduated into an improving job market for computer science graduates.

    Texas A&M may be trying to inject a bit of reality into students' expectations.
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  • SobeGreenTea972SobeGreenTea972 237 replies20 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    No risk, no reward. I'll take my chances.
    For example, between fall 2011 and fall 2012, the number of freshmen in petroleum engineering programs in the U.S. increased from 1,388 to 2,153, a 55% jump in one year.
    I'll either be a Junior or close to it when I transfer for fall 2013. Oil and gas alone supply about 55% of the world's energy. About 33% from oil itself. You can't replace that production with another source of energy in short amount anyways, I wouldn't think.

    Those percentage #s are from my research when I wrote my statement of purpose to apply at university. I believe the field will be over inflated and competitive. I'm up for competition and the challenge though.
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  • farhan123farhan123 60 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Hey guys I got accepted to Texas A&M Kingsville for Natural Gas Engineering BS ... Should I go ahead and pursue that or go to UT and try to internally transfer into their Petroleum Program which I know isn't easy. Any advice? Thanks
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  • 211mod0211mod0 6 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    Your smart to be thinking about this, but what are the alternatives? The oil and gas industry is the only part of our economy thats doing well at the moment. Want to be unemployed when you graduate? Then major in something else. There are a lot of other majors that have ZERO job prospects at graduation. Is oil cyclical? sure, but don't forget about risk vs reward.
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  • NeoDymiumNeoDymium 2301 replies3 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I've seen it, and it's a warning worth heeding. I don't recommend PetE myself.
    TAMU has the good sense to tell its student to be aware of the circumstances.

    Here's a post I think is worth a read:
    I'm a Petroleum Engineering student at TTU. Since you asked about the only two majors at the top of the starting salary chart, I'll make the right assumption you are taking a practical approach to a degree. From that perspective:

    The only absolutely right answer to what career will pay the most next year, when you graduate, in 10 years, in 20 is this: IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO KNOW. PERIOD.

    The labor market is EXACTLY THAT: A MARKET. Playing the labor market is the exact same thing as playing the stock market. Except that to buy stock is the cost you've paid on graduation day. Opportunity, financial, personal, etc.

    Now, with that in mind, do the stocks that are peaking today look like lucrative investments? Depends. But remember, the degrees that are paying a lot right now attract huge supply. If the demand doesn't stay the same relative to the new supply the salary goes down (in general.)

    That is what's happening right now with PetE. Salaries are being driven down by the huge numbers of people, just like you, that read somewhere it had the highest paying starting salary and rushed into the degree. According to NACE, last year the average was 96K. This year it is 74K, a 20% drop. The BLS revised it's growth prediction for the career downwards from last year. Next year? BUT, that all depends on how the supply and demand flux from year to year. Let's say that by the time you graduate PetE pays the average engineering salary. Looking at it from that perspective; same pay, but....dirty work, little choice of geographical location, locations generally suck, impossible to raise a family, always away from home, no job security (see 70's layoffs), huge responsibilities and stress, the chance (however small) that your degree will become completely meaningless at any time ( peak oil/ alternative energy, etc.) because if that happens your degree is so specialized that you can't work any other job. Still sound like a good career? For 150k, the risks are worth it, but at 75K it's a huge waste. Especially considering that in the oil industry truckers with criminal records and 2 weeks of training make 100k a year.

    To answer your question you need to be able to predict how the supply of students and the demand for students is going to look when you graduate. That is much, much harder than you might think. There are huge sums of money at play here for both the industry and the universities. ANY information that you or I can obtain is almost guaranteed to be biased if not downright misinformation.

    So back to my original claim: impossible to know. You are playing the market, so do research, be discerning about the information you obtain, and roll the dice. Anytime you choose a career that's "hot" you are risking going into a bubble. It's all a gamble, in the end, and if someone knows for sure what's going to happen next year they sure as hell aren't going to tell anyone else.
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  • rexevenrexeven 4 replies0 postsRegistered User New Member
    I'm a senior petroleum student. I agree with that letter. Just based on the number of kids who did not get internships this past fall, I wouldn't go in to it now. It's getting extremely competitive. You can get a mechanical engineering degree and still work in the oil industry. I currently work with a senior drilling engineer that is a mechanical graduate who had zero experience in oil and gas before starting as a drilling engineer. The starting pay is less, for sure. But after that the promotion/salary track is identical.
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  • tjdTexastjdTexas 40 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    I'm glad I found this thread. My interest is petroleum engineering with chemical engineering as a close second. I think the petroleum industry will be fine. At least that is what Dr. Tad Patzek said during my visit to UT. :)

    For me petroleum is a little more rewarding and chemical is a little more secure. I'm not sure what to do.
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  • frugaldoctorfrugaldoctor 1151 replies2 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    This should be a warning to all prospective students. Majors are cyclical just like the economy. Nothing is guaranteed, not even the health field. Some doctors do get laid off and they too have tough times finding employment. I enrolled in an EE program when it was a hot and guaranteed field. Guess what, I struggled to find a job during the recession of 1991. When I completed medical school, I entered a field that was struggling but I did my research and have ridden the recovery for the past decade.

    My advice is to do your research!!!! Call recruiters, look at the market, talk to recent graduates, and definitely don't spend a lot of money for your "dream" school. Stop dreaming and get a dose of reality.

    An owner of a large chemical engineering firm was my patient. He makes millions per year and was paying cash for his surgery. I asked him where he attended engineering school. "Oh, I never attended engineering school. I taught myself and started my company." OK, this guy has several 100 employees including engineers. Where was his Ivy League diploma. Again, I don't want to be the Grinch. Do your research!
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  • bruthamanbruthaman 82 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Frugaldoctor speaks the truth. The manufacturing plant I worked for has 500 plus employees and the guy who owns it never attended college either. Self made man, I don't know if it was the thing during the 60's and 70's or what. But a lot of these privately owned oil field companies are owned by people who became their own success, with or without a degree.

    I can't say I would enter the program now if I had to do it all over again. The influx of students is ridiculous, the same even goes for the petroleum technology programs. A good bet would be Mechanical. Most of the guys who were hired to do drilling engineering during the late 70's early 80's were mostly Mech E's. It really makes up the majority of many oil companies engineering core. All I can say is I'm glad I'm graduating now and landed a job with one of the big 5. It is going to be really cut throat come the next 3-4 years. It is starting to remind me of how pharmacy was a few years back. Students flooded the departments expecting high salaries and now it is hard to get a job. College is a gamble and a roll of the dice. You better get ready for competition. Most importantly refine your communication skills. Take a public speaking course or two. Communication is essential in the oil field.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 77092 replies671 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    bruthaman wrote:
    The manufacturing plant I worked for has 500 plus employees and the guy who owns it never attended college either. Self made man, I don't know if it was the thing during the 60's and 70's or what.

    Probably because the same characteristics that lead to good self-education (i.e. high motivation) are also very helpful for starting a company from the ground up.

    However, these characteristics which lead to good self-education are relatively uncommon, which is why most educated people use formal education in high school and/or college to become educated.
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  • bruthamanbruthaman 82 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yeah, he was very motivated from what I seen. I've spoken with him on several occasions. He started out at his home. Learned the industry from another business he was working for at the time, and got a partner to go in with him. He eventually bought out his partner during the 80's. The guy had the fear they would lose out, and he ended up buying him out. He rolled the dice and won. It isn't the only business he owns either. He founded a bank with some other investors and is on the board of directors. Guy is a machine.
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  • tjdTexastjdTexas 40 replies4 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Those stories exist all the time about someone who hit upon the right idea at the right time. My dad always said you don't get rich working for someone else.

    I agree that many jobs and industries are probably cyclical but since energy is what makes the world work I hope PetE is a little more insulated from the cycles than many other professions. I'm still thinking chemical engineering too since it is a little broader.
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  • bruthamanbruthaman 82 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Gas production should be good, and exploration for gas assuming the price holds. However, with Obama removing 2/3 of the leases available for drilling on federal land, it sends mixed signals. The good news is that some companies actually own the land they are drilling on because they bought out the rights a long time ago. Other companies aren't as stable and have to meet lease deadlines. The good news is a lot of development is happening on private land anyway. It can be hard for companies to invest in projects or buy up rig contracts if the price is fluctuating because of demand in the domestic market or overseas. What is good about the US is that WTI crude has maintain a significantly cheaper level than Brent crude and should remain so over the future given the heavy investments in the Bakken, Bakerfields, Marcellus, Eagle Ford and Permian Basin. The only issue is the price. I am of the opinion that with all of these foreign countries becoming industrialized demand for oil and gas should remain steady and consistent. The price also needs to be high enough to justify deep water and unconventional investments. My family has been in the oil industry a long time and after consulting my father, uncles, and cousins I've come to the conclusion that the only thing that could seriously hurt the oil industry right now is government policy and another global economic crisis.
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  • GatorNuke82GatorNuke82 59 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    It's nice of Texas A&M to do this. There's no way the sudden spike in Petroleum Engineering students is because everyone is suddenly passionate about oil production. The economy has been terrible for several years. There are smart kids who wants to become engineers, and many look at the published salary numbers to decide which specialty to choose. Petroleum Engineering pays about $20,000 a year higher than the next highest paying engineering degree. So, they take it as their major. But, so do a lot of other engineering students who have read the same reports. This results in a large spike of new graduates, when the number of jobs hasn't significantly increased.

    This causes the same problem to affect petroleum engineering that has affected most other college graduates in recent years: supply and demand of degree holders. As more petroleum engineers graduate, there will be more choices for employers, they can afford to pay new graduates less, and the number of good jobs will get filled before they run out of applicants. Eventually, if trends in enrollment continue, some newly graduated petroleum engineers will be forced to either work out of their field, or be under/unemployed.

    Again, it's kind of Texas A&M to at least WARN people that this could be coming down the line in the next 4 years.
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  • bruthamanbruthaman 82 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    You are right GatorNuke82. They are probably the only petroleum engineering department being realistic and straight forward with their students. I think a lot of others are just blowing smoke.
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  • whenhenwhenhen 5530 replies111 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Bruthaman, that's not true. Though TAMU is probably the only PetE school to publicly publish such a letter, OU professors do warn PetE undergrads about a potential oversupply problem.
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  • bruthamanbruthaman 82 replies0 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Yeah, I was talking about publishing it outright. I guess I should have clarified myself.
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  • mikey750mikey750 37 replies2 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    Do you think this trend could be extrapolated to engineering as a whole for someone who wants to make sure their investment in education has a reasonable shot at being worth it?
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