Oil is one of our planet's most important resources. It's a major energy source and helps drive the world economy. That's why petroleum engineers are so important and in such high demand right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the demand for petroleum engineers will increase by 26 percent from 2012 to 2022 - that's way higher than the 11 percent growth expected from all occupations.
Students interested in majoring in petroleum engineering should have a strong background in math and science, and be prepared for vigorous coursework throughout their time studying. A bachelor's degree is the minimum degree required to secure a job in petroleum engineering, but a master's degree may be preferred by top employers. Some universities may accommodate this by offering a dual five-year bachelor's/master's degree option.
Petroleum engineering students learn to develop, design, and operate the systems used to locate and extract crude petroleum and natural gas. They spend their careers searching for oil reserves and using science and math to figure out how to efficiently extract it without damaging the surrounding environment. Some may eventually leave the petroleum industry to work for lobbying groups, the government, or other energy companies.