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Exploration Engineer: Salary & Job Description

Discover the salary and job description of an exploration engineer. You will also find out more information such as the job outlook, education requirements and necessary skills to figure out whether or not petroleum engineering is the right career for you!

Exploration Engineer Responsibilities

An exploration engineer, also referred to as a petroleum engineer, is a qualified professional who focuses on the design and development of projects that enable collection of oil and gas from the earth. They might choose drilling methods, design equipment that extracts these substances, plan the development of drilling, and monitor the drilling while it takes place.

To become licensed as a professional engineer you will need 4 things that include a degree from an accredited university in engineering, passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam, at least 4 years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam.

Education Required Bachelor's degree
Job Duties Develop plans; evaluate production of wells; monitor operations
Optional License Pass Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam; gain required experience; pass Professional Engineering (PE) exam
Median Salary (2018) $137,170 (petroleum engineers)*
Job Outlook (2016-2026) 15% growth (petroleum engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Statistics

Education Requirements

To become an exploration engineer, you will need to obtain a bachelor's degree in engineering from an accredited university; preferably this would be in petroleum engineering. These programs will give you access to classes such as geology, laboratory work, engineering principles and thermodynamics. There are a few universities that will offer students a 5-year program in chemical or mechanical engineering that allots them their bachelor's and master's degree. After several years of experience, you will be able to take the PE exam to be a professional engineer and pursue advanced positions.

Required Skills

One important quality of a petroleum engineer is having proficient analytical skills because engineers must gather a significant amount of information and apply it to geologic areas so that they operate drilling safely. Additionally, they need to have interpersonal skills which will enable them to communicate well with all parties that are involved with these complex projects. They must carry creativity with them as they get to design new ways to extract gas and oil.

Job Outlook and Salary

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the expected job growth for petroleum engineers between 2016 and 2026 is 15%. This is much faster than the average American occupation. However, because this specialization of engineering is small there will be only around 5,100 new job openings.

The median wage recorded in 2018 was $137,170 per year, which is well above the average salary. The lowest 10% earned less than $74,270 per year, yet, the highest 10% earned more than $208,000 per year. In 2016, the majority of exploration engineers worked full-time, while 1 in 3 worked over 40 hours per week.

Similar Careers

An exploration engineer is one of the many subcategories in the engineering field. If you are interested in this kind of work but still want to explore more options, below are 4 alternative careers that may be of interest to you!


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