Skip to content

Electrical Engineering Vs. Petroleum Engineering (Compared)

Electrical engineering and petroleum engineering are excellent careers with significant room for progression. Knowing the differences between these two majors can help you decide which one to choose.

This post highlights and compares the differences between electrical engineering and petroleum engineering to guide you select the ideal degree program.


Electrical EngineeringPetroleum Engineering
Average Pay$90,275$100,852
Ease of finding a jobGoodModerate
Types of jobs you can qualify forControl Engineer
Project Engineer
Systems Engineer
Electronics Engineer
Electrical Designer
Electrical Technician
Substation Technician
Reservoir engineer
Oil well engineer
Drilling engineer
Completions engineer
Natural gas engineer
Production engineer
Difficulty of the majorHardHard
Key things to noteCan work in a wide range of fields
Lucrative career with high starting wages
Career is confined in the energy sector
One of the most lucrative careers 

What Is Electrical Engineering?

Electrical engineering is a branch of engineering that studies electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism.

The study consists of other sub-disciplines such as telecommunications, power generation, remote sensing, and control systems.

Electrical engineers work around the clock to design, develop, test, maintain, and repair electronics and electrical systems.

What Is Petroleum Engineering?

Petroleum engineering is a branch of engineering that focuses on the extraction of oil and natural gas. The study oversees the production and retrieval of gas and oil from beneath the earth’s surface.

Petroleum engineers mostly work in the field. They design and develop efficient and profitable ways to retrieve natural gas and oil from wells. They essentially develop methods to drill and extract gas and oil.

Jobs You Can Get With a Degree in Electrical Engineering

Since electrical engineering uses a multidisciplinary approach, electrical engineers can work in different fields. Jobs that you can get with a degree in electrical engineering include:

  • Systems Engineers
  • Project Engineer
  • Control Engineer
  • Electronics Engineer
  • Electrical Technician
  • Electrical Designer

According to, the average annual pay of an electrical engineer is $90,275. This means most electrical engineers earn a higher starting salary compared to other careers.

Jobs You Can Get With A Degree in Petroleum Engineering

Jobs you can get with a degree in petroleum engineering include:

  • Production engineer
  • Reservoir engineer
  • Oil drilling engineer
  • Oil exploration engineer
  • Natural gas engineer
  • Drilling engineer
  • Completions engineer

According to, petroleum engineers earn about $100,852 per year. Petroleum engineering is a lucrative career but it doesn’t have a wide scope since petroleum engineers mostly work in the energy sector.

Classes You’ll Be Taking in Electrical Engineering

Electrical engineering is a broad field of study with students expected to undertake several classes in math, science, and electronics. Some of the courses you should expect to take include:

Classes You’ll Be Taking in Petroleum Engineering

Petroleum engineering is not as broad as electrical engineering. However, the degree program has several elective courses. 

Students must have a solid foundation in chemistry, math, geology, and physics. Aspiring petroleum engineers should expect to undertake the following classes:

  • Production engineering
  • Reservoir engineering
  • Formation evaluation
  • Form evaluation
  • Phase behavior
  • Well planning
  • Well completion
  • Risk analysis
  • Drilling engineering
  • Phase behavior

Is Petroleum or Electrical Engineering Better?

Both petroleum and electrical engineering are excellent professions. However, electrical engineering has an upper hand over petroleum engineering since it has more career prospects.

Electrical engineers can work in a broad range of fields while petroleum engineers mostly focus on the energy sector.

Electrical engineering has higher employability and electrical engineers enjoy high starting salaries and perks. Petroleum engineering is equally lucrative but has limited job opportunities.

Can An Electrical Engineer Become A Petroleum Engineer?

An electrical engineer can make the transition to becoming a petroleum engineer. However, you may have to do a Master’s in Petroleum Engineering. 

Electrical engineers also have several roles to play in the oil and gas industry. They design, develop, and maintain control systems, electrical drills, distribution systems, and electrical equipment used in extracting natural gas and oil.

Are Petroleum Engineers Rich?

You could say petroleum engineers are rich since petroleum engineering is one of the most lucrative careers.

According to, petroleum engineers earn an average annual salary of about $100,852, making it one of the highest-paying professions. Considering the high wages and perks, we can confidently conclude that petroleum engineers can afford a decent living.

Which Country Pays Petroleum Engineers the Most?

According to the Society of Petroleum Engineers, the USA pays petroleum engineers the most, while engineers in Central and Northern Asia earn the lowest pay across the world.

Petroleum engineers work for multinational companies like Shell and BP. For this reason, their average earnings are almost the same in whatever country they perform their trade. 

Is Petroleum Engineering Dying?

Petroleum engineering is not dying; it’s here to stay. After all, the world needs oil and gas for energy, and petroleum engineers are at the forefront of ensuring there’s a sufficient supply of these fuels for people to use.

The only concern is that environmentalists and ecologists advocate for the use of non-fossil fuels to help conserve natural resources and preserve the environment.

Nevertheless, this doesn’t mark the end of petroleum engineering. Petroleum engineers are constantly researching new and more efficient methods to extract gas and oil without harming the environment.

Is Petroleum Engineering in Demand?

Even though petroleum engineering has limited employment opportunities, the demand for petroleum engineers is high.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics, the demand for petroleum engineers will rise by 8% between 2020 and 2030.

Is Petroleum Engineering Hard?

Petroleum engineering is as hard as other engineering majors. The program focuses on math, physics, and other science subjects, making it one of the most difficult majors to pursue.

Many students drop out along the way, but with the correct mindset and passion, you can complete your course and graduate as a petroleum engineer.

Final Verdict

If you’re to choose between electrical engineering and petroleum engineering, we suggest you go for the former.

Electrical engineering has the edge over petroleum engineering since electrical engineers can work in any industry. Petroleum engineers are confined to the energy industry, which means the profession has a lower scope and employability.