Income and benefits
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for petroleum engineers in the United States was $137,720 in 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $79,270, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $208,000. The top paying industry was management of companies and enterprises, with a median annual salary of $172,000. This is followed by oil and gas extraction ($137,210), engineering services ($130,790), petroleum and coal products manufacturing ($129,960) and then support activities for mining ($117,150).
Autonomy and Flexibility
Generally speaking, petroleum engineers will have high levels autonomy. They are often very senior members in projects and therefore have control over many decisions. As petroleum engineers progress through their careers, their autonomy will increase further as they gather more experience, knowledge and responsibility.
Flexibility for petroleum engineers is likely to be low. Often, petroleum engineers are employed to work offshore or in various locations across the world. They are likely to have little control over where they work and how long they stay there for!
Locations and commute
According to Zippia, the best states to be a petroleum engineer, based on average annual salary and number of job opportunities, are:
- New Hampshire, where the average annual salary is $121,544
- Alaska, where the average annual salary is $128,879
- Nevada, where the average annual salary is $128,855
- Oregon, where the average annual salary is $127,604
- Delaware, where the average annual salary is $121,764
The worst states, according to Zippia, are North Dakota, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
The largest employer of petroleum engineers in the United States was oil and gas extraction, which hired 34% of all petroleum engineers in 2019. 18% of petroleum engineers were employed by management of companies and enterprises, 14% were employed by support activities for mining, 7% by petroleum and coal products manufacturing and 7% by engineering services.
Petroleum engineers tend to work in offices at drilling and well sites. It is common to travel between different sites and to travel to meet with other engineers, oilfield workers and customers.
Oil and gas companies operate worldwide and therefore, petroleum engineers may regularly work in other countries. Petroleum engineers will work with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, including other types of engineers, scientists, and oil and gas field workers.