Is petroleum engineering a good career? Pros and cons

In this 21st century, almost every engineering branch you can think of has a demand and a contribution in the development of the society and growth of the economy either directly or indirectly.

Similarly there is a less popular profession in engineering which is the petroleum engineering branch.

If you want to explore new career options in your life apart from the mainstream engineering branches like mechanical, civil and computer science engineering then you should definitely read this article throughout the end.

So in this article let’s take a look at what petroleum engineering is all about and some pros and cons of this option to decide whether you should choose this career option or not.

So let’s jump right in.

Pros and cons of petroleum engineering

Pros of petroleum engineering

1.    High salary 

One of the main advantages of this option is that you can get a high salary if you become a petroleum engineer.

As a matter of fact according to bls the average earning is 137330 USD per annum or it can be converted into 66 dollars per hour.

This is a much higher earning option as compared to other engineering branches for example computer science engineering which is

 the most popular engineering branch in terms of salary packages but the average salary according to bureau of labour statistics is 127000 USD annually.

There is a $10,000 difference between both the career earnings.

And according to Glassdoor the average petroleum engineer earns around 10 lakh rupees annually in India.

Petroleum engineering is one of the very few career options which give you such a high salary in only a bachelor’s degree of 4 years of education.

2.    Demand 

According to bls employment of petroleum engineers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2020 to 2030.

And the fact is that with growing need of petroleum and oil for transportation the need and demand of the petroleum engineers also grows In countries like India and China

But because oil reserves can be found in only a few and specific locations in different parts of the world so compared to other engineering branches like mechanical and civil engineering the jobs growth can be relatively less which can leads to higher competition in this branch 

At the same time artificial intelligence and robots cannot replace the petroleum engineer profession in future.

3.    Work overseas & Meet new people

Another big advantage of this profession is that, you can get a chance to work overseas and foreign countries and also meet new people every day.

Because as a petroleum engineer your work is to drill and extract oil from earth surface so you will have to move to foreign countries to find work where oil is present in only specific locations like in gulf countries and at oceans at the same time you can also work in America and Venezuela which produce The most amount of oil.

At the same time you can also meet new people, experience new culture and tradition in the place where you will be extracting the oil and at your work.

Meeting new people will increase your network and also help you get more opportunities to succeed in your career and also increase your exposure.

4.    Job satisfaction

Another big benefit of this career option is that you are not just helping in the world economy but also your work of extracting the oil from earth surface has a significant impact on the life of people.

You should know that more than 90% of the trade of the world happens to sea routes and ships and these ships use marine gas oil which is a form of diesel and

 works as fuel to move the ships so your work is indirectly leading to increase in the trade of the world countries through ships at the same time

 you should also know that petroleum is not just used for transportation in vehicles but also in preparation of many materials including plastic, wax and synthetic material, etc.

This can give you both happiness in your job because your work of extracting the petroleum will help increase the economy of the world and also in lives of people because petroleum products are used in everyday life of billions of people at the same time because

 you are extracting the oil from the ground it can lead to many emissions of harmful gases like carbon dioxide and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which can cause climate change and global warming.

This career can give you both happiness and sadness.

These are all the advantages and benefits of choosing petroleum engineering as a career option 

Cons of petroleum engineering

1.    Hard degree to obtain

One of the main disadvantages of choosing petroleum engineering as a career option is that you need to specialise in a lot of skills and

 have a lot of knowledge in variety of subjects and the degree of petroleum engineering is quite hard to obtain.

Just like other engineering branches even this is a 4 year degree course but what’s special about this is that,

As a petroleum engineer you need to learn different subjects including geology, Mathematics, mechanics, electrics and electronics engineering, Physics and Chemistry,

 at the same time you should also specialise in communication skills like learning languages such as English so that you can easily communicate your ideas and messages properly with your team members at your workplace.

Unlike other engineering options like mechanical and civil engineering, becoming a petroleum engineer is not an easy task and a piece of cake as you might think.

As a matter of fact being a petroleum engineer is one of the toughest jobs on the planet because it requires a lot of skills and specialisation in lots of subjects.

2.    Job security

Another big disadvantage of this career is that you can have less job security as compared to other career options.

I know I have already said that this career option cannot get replaced by artificial intelligence and robots but the problem is not with that.

The actual problem of petroleum engineering is that we are extracting the petrol and crude oil from the ground but this can lead to a lot of pollution and emissions of harmful gases in the world & climate change.

Because of this there are many countries which are looking for renewable energy sources like solar energy to reduce climate change and global warming by replacing the need and dependence on petroleum.

For example there are many popular electric car companies like Tesla which are creating alternatives to diesel cars by powering the cars through electricity as fuel so that it does not EMIT harmful gases in the atmosphere.

At the same time countries are moving their focus from using coal and petroleum to renewable energy sources like solar and wind energy and also on nuclear energy which does not cause pollution and emit gases.

So in the near future when the countries will move their dependence from petrol to alternative sources of energy then you can obviously experience less job security because you will no longer be beneficial for the companies.

At the same time your job will also be depended upon the demand of the petroleum products, and thanks to covid pandemic, thousands of petroleum engineers have lost their job because

 all the factories and industries were shut down worldwide so there was no transportation of goods through vehicles & ships and the demand and price of the crude oil declined drastically creating huge losses for the companies.

But I agree that such pandemic wouldn’t occur in future but this also shows that this career option is very prone to recessions and

 You can also lose your job at the same time there is also job insecurity because of the growth of companies like Tesla and countries moving towards alternative sources of energy apart from coal and petroleum.

3.    Long hours of work and difficult working conditions

Another big disadvantage of this career option is that it can have long working hours and difficult conditions and situations to work.

Petroleum engineers are expected to work full time up to as much as 50 to 60 hours every week. 

This is especially true when they are onsite. They typically work in shifts or rotation such as 84 hours on duty and 84 hours off.

 Petroleum engineers create computer simulations to predict the petroleum flow in an oil field & they extensively study and research with the maps, and 

locations of earth surface so that they can find new locations where oil can be taken with less expenses.

Because of this reason you should also have a lot of analytical thinking skill.

At the same time you will have to work at harsh conditions and remote locations where the oil will get extracted at drilling places.

4.    Constant traveling

Another big disadvantage is you will have to move to different locations for work.

You’ll have to frequently move to the drilling place where oil reserves are located at a remote location from your home and also move to foreign countries if you want to get work as a petroleum engineer specially in gulf countries and American countries.

This is a bad thing because you will have to move away from your family and friends which can give you a lot of loneliness and homesickness when you are going to a strange place.

These are all the pros and cons of petroleum engineering.

Is petroleum engineering a good career?

After learning all the benefits and drawbacks of petroleum engineering, if you are still confused whether it is a good career or not then I would say of course it is a very Good career.

You can both get a high salary and work overseas and foreign countries.

Petroleum engineering is a good career option if you,

  • You like to work in foreign countries and meet new people and stay away from your family
  • You like to have a job which is high paying at the same time has a good job satisfaction
  • You like subjects like mechanics, electronics, geology and physics

In all these cases, choosing petroleum engineering as your career option is a good choice.

With that said let’s conclude the article.


These are all the things you need to know about petroleum engineering as a career option.

Do let me know your thoughts about petroleum engineering career options in the comment section below and whether you are interested in choosing this career or not.

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