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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.

  • Avg. Salary $140,758.00
  • Avg. Wage $70.30
  • Minimum Education 4 years post-secondary
  • Outlook below avg
  • Employed 13,600
  • In Demand Lower
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: Petroleum Engineers (2145) 
  • 2006 NOC-S: Petroleum Engineers (C045) 
  • 2011 NOC: Petroleum engineers (2145) 
  • 2016 NOC: Petroleum engineers (2145) 
Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

35%
35%
Average Wage
Starting
Overall
Top
  • 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
INNOVATIVE

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

OBJECTIVE

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

DIRECTIVE

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

Duties
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

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.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 10 kg
Skills & Abilities
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

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.


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 Mar 31, 2019

Engineer

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

Legislation

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 are 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 learn about certification for internationally educated engineers, see Professional Engineer Registration Process.

Contact Details

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

Call: 780-426-3990
Toll-free in North America: 1-800-661-7020
Email: email@apega.ca
Website: www.apega.ca

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.

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

The employment outlook (pdf) 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.

Wage & Salary
Updated Mar 31, 2019

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
Starting
Overall
Top
Wages* Low (5th percentile) High (95th percentile) Average Median
Starting $28.26 $86.54 $45.52 $43.28
Overall $49.05 $100.00 $70.30 $66.67
Top $62.05 $173.08 $116.03 $106.15

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
ALL INDUSTRIES
Professional, Scientific & Technical Services

Skills Shortage

Employers that Recruited in the Last 2 Years

35%
35%)

Recruiting Employers that Experienced Hiring Difficulties

20%
20%

Employers with Unfilled Vacancies of over 4 Months

9%
9%

Vacancy Rate

2%
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: www.apega.ca

Society of Petroleum Engineers Canada (SPE) website: www.spe.org/canada

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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