Petroleum Technician Career Information

Read on to learn what a petroleum technician does. See what kind of education and training this career requires. Learn about career prospects and earning potential to see if this job is right for you.

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Career Definition for a Petroleum Technician

Petroleum technicians are responsible for the technical aspects of working with petroleum during the extraction and refinement processes and are part of development and exploration teams. Technicians work with engineers and determine the most effective and efficient ways of getting natural gas and crude oil extracted from the ground and refined into a usable product. Most petroleum technicians work on-site where crude oil is extracted or refined, and positions are available with oil corporations, testing companies, engineering consulting firms or government agencies.

Education Associate's degree
Job Skills Strong grasp of math and science, ability to work under pressure, problem solving, interpersonal skills, and computer technology skills
Median Salary (May 2015)* $55,610 (geological and petroleum technicians)
Job Growth (2014-2024)* 12% (geological and petroleum technicians)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

Education Required

Most employers require that petroleum technicians graduate from a 2-year college program with an associate's degree in geochemical technology, mining technology or petroleum technology. According to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, www.spe.org, individuals need to go through a 2-year period of supervised work experience before being eligible for professional certification.

Skills Required

Petroleum technicians need to have a strong grasp of math, physics, and chemistry. It is essential that technicians be able to work under pressure and solve complex problems. Petroleum technicians must have interpersonal skills, because they work with a variety of individuals on a daily basis. Skills with computer technology are also beneficial, which allows petroleum technicians to design work and keep communication lines open.

Economic and Career Outlook

There are many advancement opportunities for petroleum technicians, which include positions as supervisors, team leaders, and managers. Because of the quantity of crude oil available in the Middle East, there are many potential opportunities for advancement overseas. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov) reports that the median annual salary for geological and petroleum technicians was $55,610 as of May 2015. Employment in the field is expected to grow by 12% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than the average for all occupations.

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Alternate Career Options

Some careers that involve similar skills and duties include the following:

Petroleum Engineer

A petroleum engineer works in a research lab or on-site to improve upon and develop new ways of chemical, mechanical, and other methods of extracting oil and gas from underground deposits. A bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering or a closely related field is typically required for employment; relevant work experience is also highly desired. Petroleum engineers may need to hold a professional engineering license if they will be working directly with the public; licensing requires completion of an ABET-accredited degree program, work experience, and a series of exams. Industry certification is also available through the Society of Petroleum Engineers. According to the BLS, jobs in this field are expected to increase 10% from 2014-2024. Petroleum engineers earned a median salary of $129,990 in 2015.


A cartographer often works for an architectural and engineering firm, making maps to be used for a variety of purposes. Cartographers gather different kinds of information, like rainfall statistics, satellite images, and light-imaging detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems data, and use those details to create a map of a specified area or update an existing map. Cartographers can work on printed, mobile, or navigational system maps. Cartographers have a bachelor's degree in the field or a closely related one, like geography; depending on the state, they may also be required to hold a surveyor's license. Voluntary certification may be earned through the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing. Cartographers can expect job growth of 29% from 2014-2024, per the BLS. This occupation paid median annual wages of $61,880 in 2015.

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