Petroleum engineers are engineers that focus on coming up with ways to extract oil and gas, either by designing their own methods or by finding new ways to use older wells. However, in this field of engineering, you will find a huge wage gap. In 2015, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) ranked petroleum engineers as having the fifth largest gap among science, math, and engineering occupations, with a wage difference of $113,210. In 2017, the BLS reports that the gap had only increased and is now up to $133,560. The highest paid 10 percent of workers make on average over $208,000, and the lowest paid 10 percent only bring in around $74,400. With these huge wage differences, you will want to find the highest paid jobs in the field of petroleum engineering.
Management for Companies and Enterprises
When looking for the highest paying job, many people know you want to be as close to being in charge as possible. Engineering managers are responsible for making detailed plans for the projects they are working on, determining what staff and equipment will be needed and hiring and supervising workers. They typically would work in offices. According to the BLS, petroleum engineers who move onto management earn a median salary of $167,950.
The BLS states that 13 percent of petroleum engineers manage companies and enterprises.
Engineering services are jobs that need employees with an engineering education, training, and experience to perform the job duties, though these employees are not the superintendents for the job site. While this may seem like any job would fall under this category, only about 5 percent of petroleum engineers find work in this field, according to the BLS. However, the BLS also reports that those in this field enjoy a median salary of $135,780.
The mean, or average, salary for petroleum engineers working in engineering services is somewhat higher than the median, at $155,100, the BLS reported.
Oil and Gas Extraction
The oil and gas extraction field is a perfect fit for petroleum engineers. In fact, the BLS states that 36 percent of petroleum engineers are employed in this field. Luckily, oil and gas extraction is also one of the most lucrative industries. Petroleum engineers who go into the oil and gas extraction industry enjoy a median salary of $134,960, according to the BLS. Many oil companies hire petroleum engineers. The top paying companies, according to PayScale, include Andarko Petroleum Corporation at $125,429, Occidental Petroleum Corporation at $125,000 and Shell Oil Company at $121,027.
Petroleum engineers might go by different names, such as completions engineers, drilling engineers, production engineer, and reservoir engineers.
Petroleum and Coal Products Manufacturing
Another field with a promising salary for petroleum engineers is petroleum and coal products manufacturing. In fact, in recent years, petroleum and coal manufacturing was the largest manufacturing industry in the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Those that enter this field enjoy a median salary of $123,260, according to the BLS. Working for this industry will allow petroleum engineers to help transform petroleum into products used in everyday life, such as gasoline. However, this field isn’t as involved with the drilling process and instead focuses on crude petroleum that has already been extracted.
Though the name of this industry contains the word petroleum, the BLS reports that only about 10 percent of petroleum engineers find jobs in this field.
Support Activities for Mining
Rounding out the top five industries in terms of median salary is support activities for mining. Petroleum engineers in this industry have a median salary of $110,280, according to the BLS. In this industry, petroleum engineers work with geological engineers, mining engineers and mining safety engineers to help extract petroleum oil. Geological engineers help find sites to mine petroleum and mining safety engineers help ensure workers’ safety while the petroleum engineers work on the drilling part of the job. These petroleum engineers might have the job title of drilling engineers. They are responsible for figuring out what is the best plan for drilling and what drilling equipment should be used.
The BLS ranks this industry as the second largest employer of petroleum engineers, coming in at 14 percent.
The BLS ranks these five industries as not only the top median salaries for petroleum engineers but also the top five industries to hire petroleum engineers. However, while the median salary shows what employees who are in the 50th percentile make, some industries have higher mean salary statistics, or overall averages of the salaries of all petroleum engineers in the industry. The BLS ranks the top three paying industries for petroleum engineers as credit intermediation and related activities, with a mean salary of $224,630; other professional, scientific and technical services, at $204,330; and scientific research and development services, at $192,030. However, in each of these industries, petroleum engineers make up less than one percent of all employees, with the top paying industry employing only 30 petroleum engineers, according to the BLS.