Petroleum engineers design methods for extracting gas and oil from deposits under the earth's surface and develop plans to drill in gas and oil fields.. Additionally, they find methods to extract gas and oil from older wells. They also design equipment to extract gas and oil for optimal productivity and develop methods to inject chemicals, water, steam or gas into oil reserves to force out more oil.
Petroleum engineers ensure that wells, well surveys and well testing are completed and subsequently evaluated. They also ensure that oil field equipment is properly installed, operated and maintained. In May of 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage was $130,280 for petroleum engineers; the bottom 10 percent earned less than $75,030 and the top 10 percent earned more than $187,200. Petroleum engineers usually work full-time, with some working as many as 50 to 60 hours weekly. The employment for petroleum engineers is expected to increase by 26 percent from 2012 to 2022, which is significantly faster than the national average for all occupations. In addition, job prospects are expected to be highly favorable during this time due to projected growth and the possibility of current petroleum engineers retiring or leaving the occupation for other reasons.