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How do you become a petroleum engineer?

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Quick Answer

Petroleum engineers must complete a bachelor's degree in petroleum, chemical or mechanical engineering to find employment. Engineers may also complete an internship or cooperative program to gain hands-on experience in this field.

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Petroleum engineering degree programs typically include coursework in geology, advanced trigonometry and calculus, thermodynamics and engineering. Many programs also provide students the opportunity to complete cooperative programs with engineering companies to gain experience working with a team and analyzing real data. Through this program, students may also gain knowledge of specific products and services. Students who want to apply for this degree program should take intermediate and advanced math and science courses to adequately prepare.

Many petroleum engineers work for large engineering firms as part of an engineering team. Over time, engineers may supervise teams or sell products and services. To advance, petroleum engineers should consider earning an advanced degree in engineering or business. Some engineers may start their own companies. All states require engineers to earn a license if they want to sell products and services on their own rather than for a licensed company. To qualify, engineers must have at least four years' experience working as a petroleum engineer and pass two exams: the Fundamentals of Engineering exam and the Professional Engineering exam.

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