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Is Petroleum Engineerig still worth it?

iff2mastamattiff2mastamatt Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
edited September 2013 in Engineering Majors
I'm a senior interested in engineering and I'm looking at some colleges in the North East. I have interests in mechanical, civil, and (you guessed it) petroleum engineering. However, not many schools offer petroleum engineering in the NE (Penn State is the only college I believe), and I'm now a little skeptical about job opportunities after college after this last year. Is petroleum engineering still a good field to go in to? (assuming I attend Penn State's petroleum engineering program). Or should I pursue another field of engineering that I'm interested in? Any input would be greatly appreciated.
Post edited by iff2mastamatt on

Replies to: Is Petroleum Engineerig still worth it?

  • Yakyu SpiritsYakyu Spirits Registered User Posts: 825 Member
    You can get a Chemical Engineering degree and still work in the Petroleum field. I met a college professor on a tour who worked majorly in the Petroleum industry and had a Bach, Masters, and PhD in Chemical Engineering.
  • sakkysakky - Posts: 14,759 Senior Member
    Chemical Engineering and Petroleum Engineering, somewhat ironically, have almost nothing to do with each other. ChemE is downstream work, whereas PetE is upstream work. PetE is more akin to a highly specialized form of civil engineering, combined with mining engineering.
  • ken285ken285 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    Would you be willing to relocate after college? You're not going to find many petroleum engineering jobs in the northeast.
  • you_of_ehyou_of_eh Registered User Posts: 753 Member
    Personally I don't see a better time then now to be getting a PetrE degree..Its only a matter of time untill the price of oil shoots up again and the oil companies start hiring like crazy. The places that you can work are limited, but if everything goes well for you in school you should have plenty of job offers before you graduate.
  • you_of_ehyou_of_eh Registered User Posts: 753 Member
    Also, when the price of oil is high (as it was a year ago) the oil companies are really starving for engineers. You could work in the oil industry with almost any engineering degree. I know an agricultural engineer who was hired by Exxon, they just threw him a few petroleum books and told him to learn. Of course oil prices may not reach this level for a while to come and whether they will remain high or continue to rise is also very hard to predict.

    Basically if you want to work upstream, go for petroleum or possibly mechanical. A chemical degree will set you up nicely for a downstream/processing job.
  • HoustonOilers27HoustonOilers27 Registered User Posts: 77 Junior Member
    to the OP, the only three schools in your proximity, besides Penn St, are WVU and Marietta.

    Good luck.
  • CorbettCorbett Registered User Posts: 3,438 Senior Member
    Petroleum engineering has historically been one of the most cyclical engineering fields, with "boom" periods of frantic hiring and sky-high salaries, and "bust" periods of layoffs and unemployment. Some people are comfortable with this, others prefer more stability.

    It also helps if you like to travel, often to out-of-the-way parts of the world. Again, some people enjoy this more than others.

    Petroleum engineering is primarily concerned with finding crude oil in the ground, estimating the amount, and getting it out of the ground. Then the crude oil has to be refined into usable products, but that's a different issue, one that generally involves chemical engineers. The petroleum industry obviously needs both types of engineers, but they do different things.
  • mregomrego Registered User Posts: 1,038 Senior Member
    Would PetE be a good major for geothermal?
  • Mr PayneMr Payne Registered User Posts: 8,850 Senior Member
    1) I don't think any oil company is starving for engineers. If the companies around me are any indication - they might let some people go.
    2) Natural gas prices are horrible (a lot of Petrochemical activity in the US is related to natural gas production). I believe natural gas prices will be low for several years.
    3) The graduating classes of petroleum engineer have perpetually increased since about 2003. The job market in 2011-2013 are going to be horrible. Better to get an ME/ChemE degree and try to get a PetE job upon graduation, but not pigeonhole yourself into a bad situation.
  • XplorerXplorer Registered User Posts: 28 New Member
    "Would PetE be a good major for geothermal?"

    I think a Geologist would be better suited for Geothermal work.
  • iff2mastamattiff2mastamatt Registered User Posts: 32 Junior Member
    Thanks for all the prompt replies. I'm not entirely interested in Chem E, so I'd prefer to stick to either civil or mechanical if I were not going into petroleum. Also as a side note, I'm willing to attend college anywhere in the country, so I may be looking at some schools in the Texas/Oklahoma area as well. However, I just want to make sure that PE won't be a bust when I graduate from college if I were to graduate from a school such as U Tulsa. I do have family in Texas, but I'm not sure if PE would be a safe field if I couldn't find a job in the south. I feel like I would be putting all of my eggs in one basket if I go to UT Austin, or U Tulsa. Should I still do it?
  • ken285ken285 Registered User Posts: 3,931 Senior Member
    UT Austin is an all around great engineering school, and not just for petroleum engineering.
  • mregomrego Registered User Posts: 1,038 Senior Member
    There's plenty of petro work in North Dakota and north west Colorado too right now. Oil sands, oil shale?
    Average new grad salary is supposedly up to $85k this year (up $10k over last).
  • Forever LSUForever LSU Registered User Posts: 419 Member
    Ahh, but a Mech E wouldn't be doing what a Petrol E does in E&P. If a Mech E gets hired by a corp, they will more than likely be designing production platform structures, subsea equipment, well head, and drilling tech. None of which has anything to do with actual petroleum engineering. Maybe Civ E would get a job as a petrol engineer, but not a mech E right out of college, unless they got a grad degree and specialized in fluid mechanics, then they would be able to probably get a Pete Job. A chem E could do the same thing if they concentrated on applied computation in grad school. Although, if you like Mech E or Chem E or Civ E then you probably wouldn't like Petrol E. Civ E is the closest related discipline, then again, you could still get stuck in off shore platform construction as a Civil Engineer, so, unless you go to grad school in another discipline, I wouldn't bet on get a job as a petroleum engineer. Although, I know of a lot of petrol eng. who have been laid off recently. The money is where the oil is at, Texas has been drilled dry, I wouldn't plan on seeing too much work out of there in the distant future. If you decide on petroleum, or the Oil Industry in general. Plan on working in deep gulf, deep north sea, Brazil, North Dakota and Colorado as mrego mentioned, Russian Siberia, the north slopes of Alaska, and probably areas in China and Africa. All the talk is about South America right now, don't expect to be anywhere near civilizaton though. Yeah, you travel as a petrol E but that can be misleading. When people think travel they think oh nice cities, nice weather, go check out the locals, no, you'll be in the middle of nowhere, so, plan accordingly.
  • Forever LSUForever LSU Registered User Posts: 419 Member
    Yeah, left out the middle east as well, many areas will cease production before the middle east does, mexico is already experiencing decline for some time now. Lets not forget the tar sands and oil shales of good old Canada, when prices come up more, you'll probably here a whole lot more about that again. Things kind of dropped off in that area when prices dropped. So, you can come to the conclusion, you will be working in barren wastelands where it is either artic chill, or hotter than the devil's pants.
This discussion has been closed.