Petroleum Engineer

Download PDF Flyer for this career1.6 MB

Petroleum engineers work in the technical profession that involves extracting oil in increasingly difficult situations as the world's oil fields are found and depleted. Petroleum engineers search the world for reservoirs containing oil or natural gas. Once these resources are discovered, petroleum engineers work with geologists and other specialists to understand the geologic formation and properties of the rock containing the reservoir, determine the drilling methods to be used, and monitor drilling and production operations.

Low-end Salary: 
Median Salary: 
High-end Salary: 

Engineers typically enter the occupation with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics or an engineering specialty, but some basic research positions may require a graduate degree. Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Engineers offering their services directly to the public must be licensed. Continuing education to keep current with rapidly changing technology is important for engineers.

Math Required: 

College Algebra Geometry Trigonometry Calculus I and II Linear Algebra Differential Equations Statistics

When Math Is Used: 

Improvements in mathematical computer modeling, materials and the application of statistics, probability analysis, and new technologies like horizontal drilling and enhanced oil recovery, have drastically improved the toolbox of the petroleum engineer in recent decades.

Potential Employers: 

About 37 percent of engineering jobs are found in manufacturing industries and another 28 percent in professional, scientific, and technical services, primarily in architectural, engineering, and related services. Many engineers also work in the construction, telecommunications, and wholesale trade industries. Some engineers also work for Federal, State, and local governments in highway and public works departments. Ultimately, the type of engineer determines the type of potential employer.


Engineering diplomas accounted for 12 of the 15 top-paying majors, with petroleum engineering earning the highest average starting salary of $83,121.


Know of a math-related career or how one uses math? Submit a career entry to the site!

You must be signed in. Don't have an account? Register here!

Salary figures from
the current US Bureau of Labor of Statistics website and represent the
90th percentile.

The most common question students ask math teachers at every level is “When will I use math?” is a non-profit website that helps to answer this question. This website describes the importance of mathematics and many rewarding career opportunities available to students who study mathematics.



Figures represent salary potential.


Dr. Cary Oberije, a postdoctoral researcher in The Netherlands, has found that mathematical models can be used to accurately predict patients' responses to treatment. Prediction models were used to analyze lung cancer patients' likelihood of survival and...

read more