What Certifications Are Available for Petroleum Engineering?

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A master’s in petroleum engineering – one of the highest-paying master’s degrees – is enough to get you started in a career as a petroleum engineer. You don’t need a professional certification or a license to begin this career path, and many petroleum engineers go their whole professional life without pursuing one. However, there are benefits to both professional certification and licensure. When people talk about licensure for professional engineers, they’re typically referring to the Petroleum Engineering Certification offered by the Society of Petroleum Engineers. You may also earn a sort of certification or accreditation through training programs in safe, appropriate practices in the drilling industry.

The Society of Petroleum Engineers’ Petroleum Engineering Certification

To acquire certification in this branch of engineering, you will need to turn to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported. Members of the Society who meet eligibility requirements and pass a credentialing exam administered by the professional organization can earn its Petroleum Engineering Certification.

The benefits of earning your Petroleum Engineering Certification are similar to the benefits of earning certification in other fields. Certification attests that your skills meet the standards established by an independent professional organization. Employers may view job candidates who have this certification as more committed to the field and to their own professional growth, which may translate to a greater number and variety of job opportunities.

Probably the easiest eligibility qualification to meet if you want to earn the Petroleum Engineering Certification is becoming a member of the Society of Petroleum Engineers. Any professional petroleum engineer or engineering student can join the organization by paying an annual membership fee. As of 2021, the Society of Petroleum Engineers membership fees in the United States are $130 for professionals and $15 for students. You also need an undergraduate degree in petroleum engineering or in a related science or engineering discipline. Finally, you need work experience. The Petroleum Engineering Certification is for professional engineers with at least four years of training or work experience in the field of engineering.

You might expect an engineering license to count toward certification requirements, but petroleum engineering positions don’t require licensure as often as certain other branches, like civil engineering. As a result, many petroleum engineers don’t pursue licensure.

Preparing for the Petroleum Engineering Certification Exam

Once you have met your eligibility requirements, it’s time to prepare for the SPE Certification Exam. The Society of Petroleum Engineers sells an Exam Reference Guide and an online SPE Certification and PE Exam Review course. Society of Petroleum Engineers members can also choose to watch free webinars, Strategies for Passing the SPE Certification and PE License Exams and Preparing for SPE Certification and Licensing Exams, as part of their membership benefits.

Applicants for the Petroleum Engineering Certification may request a waiver of the exam requirement if they have taken a written competency exam in the field of petroleum engineering.

Historically, the content of the Petroleum Engineering Certification Exam has included questions on the subjects of drilling, reservoir and production and facilities. Over the course of this seven-hour computer-based testing exam, test-takers will answer 70 questions presented in multiple-choice format.

Keeping your Petroleum Engineering Certification active requires you to undertake 16 hours of continuing education training.  

Petroleum Industry-Specific Certifications

Other petroleum engineering certifications have less to do with engineering practice than with different aspects of the petroleum industry. These certifications and other training programs often revolve around safety and health, since unsafe practices in petroleum engineering could present risks to workers on the site and to public health and wellness.

For example, the IADC WellSharp Certification focuses on well control training standards used in the drilling industry. The same professional association – the International Association of Drilling Contractors – also offers the IADC RigPass Certification. RigPass Certification emphasizes safety training for new employees of oil and gas rigs, drilling platforms that can be offshore or onshore (land-based). You might also take training courses in Helicopter Underwater Egress Training (HUET) or in Basic Offshore Safety Induction and Emergency Training (BOSIET).

Petroleum engineers visit drill sites, well sites and oil fields, but most work primarily in offices, according to the BLS. However, the time they spend working on offshore rigs can be “high-risk,” according to TIME.

Additional Resources

What Licensures Are Available for Petroleum Engineering?

Is Continuing Education Important for Petroleum Engineering?

Are There Undergraduate Degrees in Petroleum Engineering?

What Civil Engineering Courses Will I Have to Take for a Degree in Civil Engineering?