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Career
How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 12:11PM Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
The petroleum engineering job seems highly attractive but I'm wondering how HARD it is... Right now I'm a CS major and while I'm able to do it, I'm not among the best and brightest in the discipline. Considering the salaries that petroleum engineers command, I'm wondering if it isn't out of my league? Any insight?
retired and tutoring jc free
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 12:29PM - in reply to Career Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
in US colleges today, freshman physics is dropped/W/D/F three to four times as frequently as the next class. a 4.0 is high school and completion of the full suite of AP classes doesn't mean squat once you arrive in an calculus-based elementary physics class. even though the dozen or so physics textbooks with even/odd answers are all readily available for free in PDF form on numerous torrent sites, many kids can't do elementary physics.

for petE, top money out of college, but you are stuck working for a limited set of companies for your entire career. for more career flexibility pick chemE, EE, matE, bioE, and indE.
Precious Roy
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 1:05PM - in reply to retired and tutoring jc free Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
It is not easy, but I have seen some pretty unimpressive people make it through a Petroleum Engineering course.

There is a major turnover going on now in the petroleum engineering world. People are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced. Thus, you will get a job out of school, and get paid a lot more than many other engineering students.

Down sides are that you have to go where the oil is (unless you can get into upper management), and that is never the same place for very long. Also, the oil is not always in the most wonderful parts of the world. Middle East, Malaysia, Khazakstan, North Sea, are all places that regularly turn up on a petroleum engineer's resume.

The new world of oil shale means more opportunities in North America. But most of those are in middle of nowhere places in Alberta CA, North Dakota, West Texas, and Wyoming.

The last consideration is what will happen in 30 years. Either, the world will still be hooked on oil and gas and you will be making piles or someone will have perfected cold fusion and your profession will be obsolete. My bet is with the former. But it is something to think about long term.
fff
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 1:06PM - in reply to Career Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
comparing it with string theory, it is trivial.
NoFatty
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 1:28PM - in reply to Career Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
You are going to be subject to commodity market swings to a greater extent than many other sorts of engineers. The job market is awesome with crude at $100, but if it drops back to $40, then they probably won't be recruiting petroleum engineers anywhere near as aggressively, and petroleum engineering leaves you with fewer options than CS. Basically, there is a much wider range of possible career outcomes for an average Petroleum engineer than there is an average computer science major.
Austrian Economics
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 1:36PM - in reply to NoFatty Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

NoFatty wrote:
and petroleum engineering leaves you with fewer options than CS. Basically, there is a much wider range of possible career outcomes for an average Petroleum engineer than there is an average computer science major.


I think you messed up on this. Which one are you trying to say has more possible career outcomes?
Recent PE Graduate
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 3:22PM - in reply to Career Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I just graduated with my BS in petroleum engineering and I would say that the degree isn't too difficult as long as you are willing to do the work and can think for yourself. I probably did homework 4 days a week and probably averaged about 15 to 20 hours of work per week. The only time I saw people struggle in petroleum engineering is when they were not thinking.

The hardest part for me was the math, but luckily the math never got too difficult. I felt the physics behind it is intuitive and if you can understand the physics you will do great in the classes.

There are also 4 different types of petroleum engineers: reservoir engineers, production engineers, drilling engineers, and petrophysicists. In school you will learn a little bit about all of the disciplines and you can decide which niche suits you best.

Again petroleum engineering is not difficult, but you have to put in the work because it's not easy.
pumpkin
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 4:14PM - in reply to Career Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
I'm a petroleum engineer (reservoir) who flirted early with going back to school to change to CS. CS is definitely harder in general. PETR is much more business oriented and most disciplines (prod & drlg) start you out in the field...so be prepared to work long hours in ugly, depressing places for 2-10 years after graduating.

Once you're in the office, shale plays and the internet have vastly opened the opportunity to work for a company in a nice location. I'm probably moving from Louisiana to Denver in the next two months for example.
lllll
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 4:31PM - in reply to pumpkin Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
PE has the 2nd lowest FE pass rate (61%, versus 81% for MechE and 87% for ChemE) , so it probably isn't all that hard as a major.
47
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 5:54PM - in reply to fff Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

fff wrote:

comparing it with string theory, it is very difficult.


FTFY
College Engineering Major
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 8:45PM - in reply to Precious Roy Reply | Return to Index | Report Post

Precious Roy wrote:

It is not easy, but I have seen some pretty unimpressive people make it through a Petroleum Engineering course.

There is a major turnover going on now in the petroleum engineering world. People are retiring at a faster rate than they are being replaced. Thus, you will get a job out of school, and get paid a lot more than many other engineering students.

Down sides are that you have to go where the oil is (unless you can get into upper management), and that is never the same place for very long. Also, the oil is not always in the most wonderful parts of the world. Middle East, Malaysia, Khazakstan, North Sea, are all places that regularly turn up on a petroleum engineer's resume.

The new world of oil shale means more opportunities in North America. But most of those are in middle of nowhere places in Alberta CA, North Dakota, West Texas, and Wyoming.

The last consideration is what will happen in 30 years. Either, the world will still be hooked on oil and gas and you will be making piles or someone will have perfected cold fusion and your profession will be obsolete. My bet is with the former. But it is something to think about long term.


I've heard starting PE salaries in the $175-200K range are common. Is this accurate?
Petrol Eng
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 5/31/2011 9:01PM - in reply to College Engineering Major Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
That's much too high for starting according to the salary surveys. Probably more like $100-120. Great career choice.

http://www.aapg.org/explorer/salarysurvey.cfm

http://www.spe.org/jpt/print/archives/2010/11/13SalarySurvey.pdf
pumpkin
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 1:45PM - in reply to Petrol Eng Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Yep, $110k is the average for the past few graduating classes for my alma mater.

10-year engineers are ~$120-150 and 20-year 150-175.

"Salary compression" is in effect (starting young'uns make almost as much as seasoned) because of the upcoming "Great Crew Change".
tell me why
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 1:54PM - in reply to pumpkin Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Why are salaries for petroleum engineering so high?
Texas Tea Sipper
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 2:01PM - in reply to tell me why Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Supply and demand. The field thinned out considerably between the bust in the 80's and the last few years. The majors all consolidated and shed staff. The baby boomers who managed to keep jobs are going to be retiring in the next few years, so there should be pretty good opportunities.
Another PE
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 2:26PM - in reply to Recent PE Graduate Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
There are also 4 different types of petroleum engineers: reservoir engineers, production engineers, drilling engineers, and petrophysicists. In school you will learn a little bit about all of the disciplines and you can decide which niche suits you best.

Again petroleum engineering is not difficult, but you have to put in the work because it's not easy.[/quote]

Petrophysicist?? That would be on the G&G side...

You can add completions and process engineering
fff
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 2:32PM - in reply to 47 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
ha ha. Good joke.
47
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 3:24PM - in reply to fff Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
No really. String theory is just a bunch of academics making guesses.
fff
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 4:02PM - in reply to 47 Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
it is still way more difficult mathematically and intellectually than PE.
47
RE: How difficult is petroleum engineering? 6/1/2011 6:03PM - in reply to fff Reply | Return to Index | Report Post
Nope.
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