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Petroleum Engineer Vs. Mechanical Engineer

Petroleum and mechanical engineers may both work on creating new machines that make our lives possible. Their main focuses, salaries, and career outlooks are quite different, however, and will be compared in this article.

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Comparing Petroleum Engineers to Mechanical Engineers

Engineers, including those involved in oil production and the design of vehicles, work to improve people's lives through innovation. What petroleum and mechanical engineers design and the purposes of these products, however, are very different.

Job Title Educational Requirements Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2016-2026)*
Petroleum Engineers Bachelor's Degree $128,230 15%
Mechanical Engineers Bachelor's Degree $84,190 9%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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  • Aeronautical and Aerospace Mechanics
  • Automotive Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering Technologies

Responsibilities of Petroleum Engineers vs. Mechanical Engineers

Petroleum engineers focus on finding oil and natural gas reservoirs, as well as efficiently collecting the fuel. Mechanical engineers, on the other hand, build machines that can run on electricity, natural gas, and traditional fuel. Both are required to be innovative and research new ideas. Finally, both are tasked with producing goods in a cost-effective way.

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design equipment, including new drills and drill bits, to aid in getting oil and gas out of the ground. They also work closely with geoscientists to complete fieldwork and locate geographic formations that point to new fuel reserves. Once the fuel is located, it is the job of petroleum engineers to establish the cost and profitability of the reservoir. They also create a plan to drill, with the focus on bringing as much profit to the gas and oil company as possible. If the reserve does not yield much, these professionals can complete pressure transient analysis and figure out why.

Job responsibilities of a petroleum engineer include:

  • Installing pumps, drills, and wells on location at oil and gas fields
  • Putting water and gas through wells to push more fuel out
  • Working closely with government agencies that regulate gas and oil production and purity
  • Dealing with issues related to production, including maintaining drills

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers often focus on the devices and machines people encounter daily. The tools and parts mechanics use, as well as complex engines in vehicles, are designed by these professionals. They also work with mechanical systems seen in larger items, such as wind-turbines and escalators. Mechanical engineers use computer-aided design programs to run simulations and determine whether their design will work safely and efficiently. Additionally, they should be familiar with the energy and thermodynamics occurring in the machine in order to research mechanical and thermal sensors to implement in their designs.

Job responsibilities of a mechanical engineer include:

  • Advancing the suspension and aerodynamic properties of vehicles
  • Developing solutions to issues seen in current products and then redesigning these products
  • Making a functioning prototype to show shareholders
  • Supervising manufacturing of products and machines to ensure they meet specifications

Related Careers

Those curious about a job as a petroleum engineer could research a career as a chemical engineer, because both work with processing and manufacturing fuel. Additionally, anyone looking into a career as a mechanical engineer could also explore a job as a materials engineer, as both manufacture and test products.

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