Drilling Engineer Degree Program Overviews

Oct 10, 2019

Individuals wishing to work in drilling engineering typically need a bachelor's degree. Though degree programs specific to drilling engineering are not available, a degree program in petroleum engineering provides classes and training in this area.

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Essential Information

Undergraduate degree programs in petroleum engineering include a combination of science, math and engineering courses. Students gain the skills needed to find and design systems to extract minerals, oil and gas from beneath Earth's surface. This bachelor's degree program trains budding drilling engineers in the basics of designing, drilling and operating well systems. The education they obtain might also prepare program graduates to become professionally certified by passing a qualifying examination.

Prior to enrollment, students need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, minimum GPA of 2.5-3.0 and satisfactory SAT or ACT scores.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Petroleum Engineering

These programs include general education courses, as well as core courses relating to the drilling and mining industry. Course topics relating specifically to drilling engineering may include:

  • Evaluating formations
  • Evaluating petroleum projects
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Mechanics of materials
  • Preventing well blowouts
  • Systems of petroleum production

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have data specific to drilling engineers; however, they have predicted that there will be a 3% growth of petroleum engineering jobs from 2018-2028 ( This increase is slower than average; the retirement of many current petroleum engineers is expected to create new jobs. The BLS also reported that the median annual wage for a petroleum engineer was $137,170 in May 2018.

Continuing Education, Certification and Licensure Information

Although a graduate degree is not necessary for most drilling engineer jobs, master's degree programs in petroleum engineering are available. Graduate studies in petroleum are often tailored to the goals of the student and prepare graduates to take on technical and managerial responsibilities. At this level, students may be able to specialize in the drilling engineer aspect of petroleum engineering.

Drilling engineers may also choose to earn voluntary certification from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) or the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE). Certification typically requires completion of a formal education program, industry experience and passing an exam.

All states also require licensure for engineers who work with the public. Licensure requirements may vary slightly by state, but typically include completing an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology-accredited degree program, four years of experience and passing a test. Those who complete this process may use the title of professional engineer (P.E.).

Bachelor's degree programs in petroleum engineering are often what most drilling engineers seek since these programs cover the systems employed in extracting specific natural resources. Many graduates from these programs seek professional certification.

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