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Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers are involved in the exploration and development of oil and gas. They apply the principles of geology, physics, chemistry and engineering sciences to the recovery of petroleum and natural gas from conventional reservoirs and oil sands.

  • Avg. Salary $135,675.00
  • Avg. Wage $68.19
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 11,800
  • In Demand Medium
Also Known As

Engineer, Oil and Gas Engineer, Production Engineer, Professional Engineer, Up-Stream Processing Engineer, Design Engineer

NOC Codes

In Canada, the federal government groups and organizes occupations based on a National Occupational Classification (NOC) system. This alis occupation may not reflect the entire NOC group it is part of. Data for the NOC group can apply across multiple occupations.

The NOC system is updated every 5 years to reflect changes in the labour market. Government forms and labour market data may group and refer to an occupation differently, depending on the system used. Here is how this occupation has been classified over time:

  • 2006 NOC: Petroleum Engineers (2145) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Petroleum Engineers (C045) 
  • 2011 NOC: Petroleum engineers (2145) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

Average Wage
  • Certification Provincially Regulated
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Interest Codes
The Petroleum Engineer is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Petroleum Engineers

Interest in synthesizing information to monitor and forecast oil and gas reservoir performance and recommend oil recovery techniques which extend the economic life of wells, and to design, develop and co-ordinate the installation, maintenance and operation of subsea well-head and production equipment


Interest in precision working to specify drilling fluids, bit selection, drill stem testing procedures and equipment, and to design and select artificial lift machinery and well and surface production equipment and systems


Interest in supervising well modification and stimulation programs to maximize oil and gas recovery; and in monitoring reservoir performance, and in overseeing and monitoring completion and evaluation of wells, well testing and well surveys

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Updated Dec 14, 2016

Petroleum engineers work closely with teams of geoscience professionals (for example, geologists and geophysicists) and oil field operating personnel. In general, petroleum engineers:

  • analyze drilling data to determine if wells contain significant quantities of hydrocarbons that can be recovered economically
  • make decisions regarding appropriate well completion techniques
  • assess costs and evaluate the economic viability of potential drilling locations
  • monitor and analyze reservoir performance
  • find ways to improve production and optimize drilling, completion and recovery methods
  • research more sustainable methods of oil sands recovery that are cost effective and have a lower impact on the environment 
  • design and implement appropriate production, processing and transportation options
  • estimate the immediate and long-term production capabilities of oil and gas wells and their ultimate recoverable volumes of oil and gas
  • design subsurface storage facilities for natural gas, acid gas and produced fluids
  • design and implement health, safety and environmental controls on oil and gas operations.

Junior engineers sometimes work in remote field locations overseeing the collection and analysis of oil and gas well data or supervising the installation or operation of facilities. They may use computers to analyze data and samples at the site and co-ordinate drilling activities and safety procedures.

Working Conditions
Updated Dec 14, 2016

In remote locations, petroleum engineers often work on site for a week to 10 days, then have a week off. Engineers working in oil fields and on offshore drilling rigs often work 12 hour shifts. Lifting up to 10 kilograms may be required.

Experienced petroleum engineers usually work in an office environment.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Petroleum engineers need the following characteristics:

  • an aptitude for mathematics and science (especially chemistry and physics)
  • the ability to think logically and solve problems
  • good communication skills including written and oral presentation skills
  • the ability to work independently or with a team of scientists
  • high energy levels to deal with their demanding workloads and changing priorities.

They should enjoy being innovative, doing work that requires precision and supervising others.

Educational Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016

The minimum education requirement for petroleum engineers is a bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering or a related discipline (for example, a degree in mechanical engineering with a minor in petroleum engineering). After graduation, petroleum engineers must be prepared to continue their education on an ongoing basis to keep up with new developments.

Required Education

The following schools offer programs and courses that meet this occupation’s educational requirements. Other eligible programs and courses may be available.

Related Education

The following schools offer programs or courses that are related to this occupation but are not required to enter the field.

Grande Prairie Regional College

Grant MacEwan University

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Certification Requirements
Updated Dec 14, 2016


Professional engineers design, construct, evaluate, advise, monitor and report on the performance of materials, equipment, systems, works, processes and structures.


Under Alberta’s Engineering and Geoscience Professions Act [pdf], you must be a registered member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) to practice as a Professional Engineer or engage in the practice of engineering. You do not have to register if you work under the direct supervision of a professional engineer and do not call yourself a Professional Engineer or use the word “engineer” in your job title.

What You Need

Registration as a Professional Engineer in Alberta requires successful completion of:

  • a 4-year bachelor’s degree in a recognized engineering program and at least 4 years of acceptable work experience under the supervision of a Professional Engineer, or an equivalent combination of education and experience
  • a minimum of 3 acceptable references
  • successful completion of an approved examination in law, ethics and professionalism.

A new Provisional Member category has been introduced. For official, detailed information about registration requirements, contact APEGA.

Working in Alberta

Engineers who are registered and in good standing with a regulatory organization elsewhere in Canada may be eligible for registration in Alberta if the 2 jurisdictions require similar responsibilities and competencies.

For more information, see What if I am already certified in another province or territory in Canada? and APEGA.

To find more information on the certification process for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Licensing Process [pdf] on the Opportunity Alberta website.

Contact Details

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA)
1500 Scotia One, 10060 Jasper Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4A2

Call: 780-426-3990
Toll-free in North America: 1-800-661-7020
Fax: 780-426-1877

Employment & Advancement
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Most petroleum engineers work on site in locations where oil and gas are found. In Canada, the majority of petroleum engineers work in Alberta but there also are employment opportunities in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.

Petroleum engineers may specialize in specific areas of petroleum engineering such as drilling, reservoir management, completions, production, operations, petrophysics, gas processing, secondary and tertiary recovery methods, or pipelines. 

They may work for:

  • major oil companies
  • smaller, independent oil exploration, production and service companies
  • engineering consulting firms
  • government agencies.

Many petroleum engineers have their own consulting businesses, or work in banks and other financial institutions that lend money to companies for the financing of oil and gas properties.

Newly graduated petroleum engineers often start out doing field work under the supervision of an experienced engineer. This practical training is required for more responsible field engineering or reservoir engineering assignments.

In company operations divisions, petroleum engineers can work their way up from field to district, division and operations management positions.

In Alberta, 84% of people employed as petroleum engineers work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • fluctuations in supply and demand for oil and the price of oil 
  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

In Alberta, the C045: Petroleum Engineers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.1% from 2016 to 2020. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 119 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Petroleum engineers

Survey Methodology

Survey Analysis

Overall Wage Details
Average Wage
Average Salary
Hours Per Week

Hourly Wage
For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $30.00 $74.52 $48.51 $44.46
Overall $38.00 $89.90 $68.19 $75.96
Top $47.52 $135.54 $96.18 $90.96

Swipe left and right to view all data. Scroll left and right to view all data.

* All wage estimates are hourly except where otherwise indicated. Wages and salaries do not include overtime hours, tips, benefits, profit shares, bonuses (unrelated to production) and other forms of compensation.

B: Good Reliability
Data Reliability Code Definition

Good Reliability, represents a CV of between 6.01% and 15.00% and/or fewer than 30 survey observations and/or if survey observations represent less than 50% of all estimated employment for the occupation.

Industry Information
Oil & Gas Extraction

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years


Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties


Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months


Vacancy Rate

Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Engineering, Architecture and Related Studies
Other Sources of Information
Updated Dec 14, 2016

Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) website:

Society of Petroleum Engineers Canada (SPE) website:

For more information on career planning, education and jobs call the Alberta Supports Contact Centre toll-free at 1-877-644-9992 or 780-644-9992 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Supports Centre near you.

Updated Apr 11, 2014. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook, and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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