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Petroleum Engineer Job Descriptions, Average Salary, Interview Questions

What Does a Petroleum Engineer Do?

Oil-based fuels and chemical compounds are vital to the world economy. A petroleum engineer designs the equipment and systems used to extract oil and gas used in the creation of these products. Petroleum engineers design drill equipment for onshore and offshore activities and recommend plans based on the cost, effort involved, and potential return on investment of time and resources. Petroleum engineers also evaluate the production of oil and gas wells through surveys and testing.

Petroleum engineers work with geoscientists and other specialists to understand the rock formations surrounding oil and gas deposits. For this reason, petroleum engineers must possess interpersonal, communication, and teamwork skills. Petroleum engineers must also have advanced research skills, as they are often required to find new ways to extract as much oil and gas as possible from underground reserves.

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National Average Salary

Petroleum engineer salaries vary by experience, industry, organization size, and geography. To explore salary ranges by local market, please visit our sister site

The average U.S. salary for a Petroleum Engineer is:


Petroleum Engineer Job Descriptions

When it comes to recruiting a petroleum engineer, having the right job description can make a big difference. Here are some real world job descriptions you can use as templates for your next opening.

Example 1

Do you love designing and supervising hands-on projects? Do you like creating machines that do their jobs with maximum efficiency while protecting the surrounding environment? If so, you might be the perfect fit for our company. Petroleum engineers use their mastery of mathematics, engineering, and geology to design and implement extraction methods for petroleum. They locate and devise methods of extraction and develop cost-efficient, effective methods of recovery while developing new ways to do so. They generally have strong mathematical, analytical, and creative problem-solving skills. Additionally, they’ll be well versed in the best practices of extraction techniques and understand how to analyze, interpret, and monitor geological formations to assess risks and methods.

Typical duties and responsibilities

  • Design equipment for extracting oil and gas from onshore and offshore reserves deep underground
  • Create plans for drilling in oil and gas fields, and then recovering the oil and gas
  • Develop ways to inject water, chemicals, gases, or steam into an oil reserve to force out more oil or gas
  • Ensure oilfield equipment is installed, operated, and maintained properly
  • Evaluate the production of wells through surveys, testing, and analysis

Education and experience

This position requires a bachelor’s degree in engineering, preferably with a major in petroleum engineering. Also acceptable are job candidates with mechanical, civil, or chemical engineering degrees. Some employers prefer applicants with a master’s degree or Ph.D. for certain positions.

Required skills and qualifications

  • Analytical, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills
  • Advanced mathematics skills
  • Teamwork and interpersonal communication skills
  • Strong technical writing ability
  • Experience with database and spreadsheet software
  • Demonstrated expertise in solving highly technical problems
  • Working knowledge of geology or thermodynamics

Preferred qualifications

  • Master’s degree in engineering, mathematics, or related field
  • Strong written communication skills
  • 3+ years of experience working in the petroleum space

Example 2

The Petroleum Engineer/Specialist will bring their expertise in applying technologies (physics-based, data-driven, and hybrid) to monitor, analyze, and optimize asset performance for conventional and unconventional reservoirs, and the advancement of these analytical and emerging solutions within the customer organizations.


  • BS or MS in Petroleum Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, or any other related discipline
  • 5+ years of relevant work experience
  • Strong background in petroleum engineering, black oil and compositional reservoir simulation, PTA/RTA, and integrated production modeling applied to field development, reservoir management and production surveillance for conventional and unconventional reservoirs
  • Experience with artificial lift design, diagnosis, and optimization for common lift types
  • Demonstrated ability to carry out independent analysis and problem solving based on digital oilfield practices and technologies for field development planning, reservoir management and production optimization
  • Experience in machine learning, data analytics, deep learning, system modeling, and control systems are beneficial
  • Working knowledge of commercial reservoir simulation, well testing, and nodal analysis software packages
  • Experience with software development and product ownership will be preferred
  • Familiarity with design and execution of data acquisition programs (PVT, SCAL, etc.)
  • Proficiency in programming languages (C++, C#, Python, Java) and mathematical packages (Python, R, Matlab)
  • Strong analytical skills and sound business awareness
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills
  • Must be able to work in highly charged, fast-paced work environment and be able to handle multiple projects


  • Support implementation and deployment of new solutions in software platform for customers
  • Perform end-to-end modeling, uncertainty analysis and optimization workflows for integrated asset management
  • Ensure customer satisfaction and capture value on deployed projects by providing a high level of customer service to drive success for our customers
  • Serve as a technical expert and provide technical leadership both externally and internally
  • Bring your ideas and provide critical customer feedback to drive product development activities for advanced digital technologies for field development, reservoir management and production surveillance for unconventional and conventional reservoirs
  • Prepare materials and train personnel on deployed solutions through courses, workshops, and hands-on work sessions
  • Execution of a wide range of projects across core focus areas of Digital Labs
  • Work with internal RD and external technology organizations on key projects

Example 3


  • Engineering Degree Required
  • Petroleum or Chemical strongly preferred
  • Mechanical and Electrical may be considered
  • Superior academic achievement (>3.6 GPA on a 4.0 scale)


  • 1-2 years relevant work experience preferred (Reservoir/Petroleum Engineer)
  • Will consider 0 years for right candidate
  • Must show a strong interest in Upstream Oil and Gas asset valuation

Required skills and abilities

  • Strong quantitative and analytical skills
  • Advanced oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to work independently while functioning as part of a team
  • Strong attention to detail and the ability to work in high pressure settings with tight deadlines
  • Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint advanced user
  • Software coding experience (VBA Macro Development, Python, or SQL)
  • Basic understanding of database design and functionality (Microsoft Access)


  • Decline Curve Analysis, SEC Reserve Definitions
  • Experience with IHS Enerdeq or Enverus (DrillingInfo), ARIES, PHDWin, Tableau, or Spotfire
  • Basic understanding of Petroleum Geology

Example 4

Key responsibilities include

  • Design storage field projects and coordinate the completion of these activities with the field supervision. Develop operating and maintenance plans for each of the storage fields
  • Coordinate with Gas Supply and Gas Control to create annual injection and withdrawal plans and maintain the peak day deliverability of each of the storage fields
  • Provide support for the completion of all storage field regulatory data requests and complete all storage related permitting and filings
  • Monitor the gas storage field inventories. Analyze reservoir and well performance using historical data, test results, reservoir models, and wire line surveys. Initiate annual adjustments to storage field inventories as required for maintaining field performance
  • Compile cost estimates, justifications, specifications, designs, work orders, and requisitions for materials and personnel for both long term capital projects and short-term maintenance related projects as required to drill and complete new wells, identify and perform remedial work on wells with lost performance/deliverability, and maintain well integrity
  • Provide on-site supervision of well work activities and remedial well workover operations
  • Familiarity with API RP 1171 and 49 CFR 192.12. Stay up to date with state and federal regulations to stay in compliance with code requirements. Work with field operations personnel to ensure completion of all well-specific compliance activities as specified in operations and maintenance plans


  • Bachelor of Science Degree in Petroleum Engineering from an accredited college or university required. Four or more years relevant reservoir engineering, gas storage

Candidate Certifications to Look For

  • Registered Landman. The American Association of Professional Landmen is a basic certification demonstrating an understanding of the fundamentals of the land industry, as well as a commitment to continuing the holder’s education. This will show a candidate’s desire in the chosen career, as well as teach basic underlying skills necessary to perform the job.
  • Petroleum Engineer. The Society of Petroleum Engineers offers this certification program to drive recognition and establish high personal standards. Candidates need 2 or more years of experience in the field, as well as at least 2 years of education in order to be qualified to take the exam. Additionally, they’ll need to renew this certification every year.
  • Certified Energy Procurement Professional. The Association of Energy Engineers offers the CEP as a special designation to petroleum professionals who have demonstrated a high aptitude for learning, and a firm understanding of the knowledge, experience, and ethics needed for all activities related to the purchase, sale, and marketing of electricity and natural gas.

Sample Interview Questions

  • What are your experiences with exploring new oil and gas reserves, and how do you evaluate a site’s potential?
  • How did you contribute to the success of the team while working on a complex project?
  • When it comes to staying up-to-date on changes to regulations and standards, what strategies do you use to ensure your work is compliant?
  • In developing your production plans, what factors do you take into consideration when trying to maximize oil and gas production?
  • In what ways have you collaborated with geologists to identify potential drilling sites? How have you evaluated the geological characteristics of the sites to decide if they can be productive?
  • How have you troubleshot equipment or production issues to maintain safety and production?
  • What methods do you use to balance safety and environmental considerations with production goals?
  • What is your experience with drilling planning and development, and how do you incorporate safety and environmental concerns?

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