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Petroleum Engineer

Petroleum engineers take part in exploring for and developing oil and gas resources. They apply the principles of geology, physics, chemistry, and engineering sciences to recovering petroleum and natural gas from conventional and unconventional reservoirs and oil sands.

Also Known As

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

  • 2145: Petroleum Engineers

2006 NOC-S

  • C045: Petroleum Engineers

2011 NOC

  • 2145: Petroleum engineers

2016 NOC

  • 2145: Petroleum engineers

2021 NOC

  • 21332: Petroleum engineers

2023 OaSIS

  • 21332.00: Petroleum engineers
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Petroleum engineers work closely with oil field operating personnel and teams of geoscience professionals, such as geologists and geophysicists. In general, they:

  • Estimate the immediate and long-term production capacity of oil and gas wells and their ultimate recoverable volumes of oil and gas
  • Analyze drilling data to determine if wells contain notable quantities of hydrocarbons that can be recovered cost-effectively
  • 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 sustainable methods of oil sands recovery
  • Provide input to the design and implementation of production, processing, and transportation options
  • 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

In junior positions, petroleum engineers may work in remote field locations. They might oversee the collection and analysis of oil and gas well data. They might supervise the installation or operation of facilities. They may use computers to analyze data and samples and co-ordinate drilling activities or safety procedures.

Working Conditions
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg

Remote field work can easily translate into 7- to 10-day shifts, followed by a week off. Engineers working in oil fields and on offshore drilling rigs often work 12-hour shifts. They should be prepared to do some heavy lifting.

With more experience, petroleum engineers often return to an office environment.

Interests & Abilities

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2006 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Petroleum Engineers

2006 NOC: 2145

Interest Codes

Interest Codes for This NOC Group

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

Your Interest Codes

To identify or change your interest codes, complete the Interests Exercise in CAREERinsite.

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 for this NOC group 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 About Interests


Typical ability expectations for this NOC group
Your abilities

To fill in or change the values for your abilities, complete the Abilities Exercise in CAREERinsite.

Mental Abilities

General Learning Ability

Verbal Ability

Numerical Ability

Visual Abilities

Spatial Perception

Form Perception

Clerical Perception

Physical Abilities

Motor Coordination

Finger Dexterity

Manual Dexterity

Understanding Abilities

A Quick Guide

You are born with abilities that help you process certain types of information and turn it into action. These abilities influence which skills you can learn more easily.

The abilities or aptitudes shown for this NOC group come from the General Aptitude Test Battery (GATB). The GATB measures 9 aptitudes. It groups them into 3 categories: mental, visual, and physical.

The abilities scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being stronger.

Learn About Abilities

Traits & Skills
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Petroleum engineers need:

  • An aptitude for mathematics and science, especially chemistry and physics
  • Logical thinking
  • Communication and problem-solving skills
  • High energy to deal with demanding workloads
  • The ability to work independently or with a team of scientists

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


Educational Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary

The minimum education requirement for petroleum engineers is a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering or a related discipline, such as mechanical engineering with a minor in petroleum engineering. However, graduation does not mean the end of education. Petroleum engineers must also take courses and training 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.

To expand or narrow your search for programs related to this occupation, visit Post-Secondary Programs.

Completing a program does not guarantee entrance into an occupation. Before enrolling in an education program, prospective students should look into various sources for education options and employment possibilities. For example, contact associations and employers in this field.

Certification Requirements
Updated Mar 31, 2019
  • Certification Provincially Regulated

Certain professional titles or duties within this occupation are protected by provincial legislation. Requirements vary if you use these titles or perform these duties.

The related legislation is shown below. If there are multiple related legislations, select a certification heading to learn about each one.



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] and Engineering and Geoscience Professions General Regulation [pdf], you must register as a 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.

For information on what you need and other details, visit the certification profile Engineer.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Mar 31, 2019

Most petroleum engineers work at head offices where oil and gas drilling or exploration is happening. In Canada, most petroleum engineers work in Alberta. However, opportunities also exist in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Nova Scotia.

Petroleum engineers may specialize in specific areas of petroleum engineering. These include operations and production processes such as drilling, reservoir management, completions, petrophysics, gas processing, secondary and tertiary recovery methods, and 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. Some work in financial institutions that finance oil and gas properties.

Petroleum engineer graduates often head into field positions. They are supervised by an experienced engineer. The practical experience and training are invaluable. It can help them move on to the bigger responsibilities, such as field or reservoir engineering assignments.

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

Industry Concentration

This section shows the industries where the majority of people in this occupation work. The data is based on the 2016 Census.

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups.

In the 2145: Petroleum engineers occupational group, 81.2% of people work in:

Employment Outlook

Employment outlook is influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • Time of year (for seasonal jobs)
  • Location in Alberta
  • Employment turnover (when people leave existing positions)
  • Occupational growth (when new positions are created)
  • Size of the occupation
  • Trends and events that affect overall employment, especially in the industry or industries from the previous list

In Alberta, the 2145: Petroleum engineers occupational group is expected to have a below-average annual growth of 1.4% from 2019 to 2023. In addition to job openings created by employment turnover, 195 new positions are forecasted to be created within this occupational group each year.

NOC groups often include several related occupations. Although there is labour market data for the larger NOC group, this occupation makes up only a part of that group. It means data for this occupation may be different than the data shown. For example, only some of the new positions to be created will be for this occupation. It also applies to other data for the NOC group such as number of people employed.

Source: 2019-2023 Alberta Regional Occupational Demand Outlook

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

In Alberta, this occupation is part of 1 or more 2016 National Occupational Classification (NOC) groups. If there are multiple related NOC groups, select a NOC heading to learn about each one.

Petroleum engineers

2016 NOC: 2145
Average Wage
Per Hour
Average Salary
Per Year
Average Hours
Per Week
Average Months on Payroll
Survey Methodology Survey Analysis

2021 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey

NOC 2145 Wage Profile

Unless otherwise noted, the data shown here is for all industries and all regions in Alberta.

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.

To see the full survey data for this NOC group, visit the wage profile.

Other wage sources
To make an informed wage and salary decision, research other wage sources [pdf] to supplement this data.

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.

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
  • Low
  • High
  • Average
  • Median

Hourly Wage

For full-time and part-time employees
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $28.85 $79.33 $49.53 $48.62
Overall $35.23 $109.13 $65.24 $58.77
Top $46.70 $192.31 $87.95 $79.33

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.

Pay brackets for hourly wages

  • Starting pay: average pay offered for entry-level positions
  • Overall pay: average pay across all employees in this occupation
  • Top pay: average pay offered to top-paid employees

Industry Information

Oil & Gas Extraction
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

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 Mar 31, 2019

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

Society of Petroleum Engineers Canada (SPE) website:

Get information and referrals about career, education, and employment options from Alberta Supports.

Updated Mar 31, 2019. 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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