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Can Petroleum Engineers Work From Home?

The coronavirus pandemic has brought about a monumental shift in attitudes, not only in regards to health and hygiene but also in how people conduct businesses. 

Engineering, like most industries, has also been affected by the myriad lockdowns and travel restrictions, with many engineers forced to work from home

The possibilities have never been this abundant for petroleum engineers looking for remote work opportunities.

Can Petroleum Engineers Work From Home? 

Due to the nature of their work, petroleum engineers can’t work on a full work-from-home model like mechanical or software engineers. 

This is because their jobs involve a lot of data collection and collaboration, which necessitates a lot of site visits and team meetings.

It is, however, possible for engineers working in certain positions to do some of their work remotely, depending on the companies they work for.

For instance, engineers tasked with tracking and analyzing data on drills need to be on-site to get accurate data and collaborate with other specialists.

On the other hand, engineers working as consultants, in management, or in research and development may have more flexible work schedules and be able to fully or partially work online.

Notably, there have been some remarkable advancements in petroleum drilling and processing technologies and information technology that point to remote drilling being a possibility in the near future.

Consequently, there’ll be significant reductions in the number of staff manning oil wells, with most of them, including petroleum engineers, doing most of their work on computers from far away. 

Of course, the shift to computerized mining won’t happen in a day – or even a few years – but it’s not as far off as you may think.

The increasingly urgent clamor for green energy and the subsequent reductions in operating profits for oil and gas companies may just be the kick in the back the industry needs to shift to the hybrid working model.

How to Find Remote Jobs for Petroleum Engineers?

It’s not uncommon to find occasional ads – usually by offshore companies – for remote petroleum engineering jobs. These are usually in forums like UpWork, Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor. 

However, remote positions for petroleum engineers are rare and mostly limited to consulting and management roles. 

Read more: Can System Engineers Work From Home?

Where Can Petroleum Engineers Work?

Petroleum engineers are specially trained in oil drilling methods and technologies and thus work primarily for oil drilling and marketing companies.

They can also find work in government agencies, the military, and in companies that manufacture petroleum-derived products such as lubricants and motor oils. 

Experienced and well-regarded petroleum engineers may also be contracted as advisors and consultants across a whole range of industries, ranging from transport to vehicle manufacturing. 

What Do You Need for Remote Working?

To work remotely as a petroleum engineer, you first need to have a job that allows it.

Say, for instance, you’re analyzing a feasibility study to come up with a technical plan. You can be asked to do some of the analytical tasks remotely. 

The requirements for working as a remote petroleum engineer are not much different from those of other professions. You’ll need pretty much the same tools and resources, including:

  • A computer – the more advanced, the better.
  • Strong Wi-Fi connection.
  • Video conferencing software.
  • Screen recording and sharing apps and tools.
  • Group chat applications.

Most importantly, you need high levels of discipline and work ethics to overcome the never-ending temptations and distractions that come with being in non-work environments.

Also read: Can civil engineers work from home?

How Many Days a Week Do Petroleum Engineers Work?

In most cases, petroleum engineers clock more than 40 hours every week, with some even doing 60 hours, depending on the nature of their job.

However, this doesn’t imply that the job is too hard. Just that one has to spend a lot of time traveling to and from different wells and labs, some of which can be hundreds of miles away. 

Further, studying maps and data – a key part of many petroleum engineers’ jobs – can take a fair bit of time, especially when the ongoing project is complex.

Last but not least, petroleum engineers usually have a lot of meetings to attend and presentations to make, which also adds to the workload.

Why Are Petroleum Engineers Paid So Much?

According to the Bureau for Labor Statistics, the median pay for petroleum engineers in 2020 was $137,300, which essentially makes petroleum engineering one of the highest-paying professions in the world.

This is mainly because:

  • There aren’t many petroleum engineers around, so demand for their services is high.
  • Petroleum engineers typically work for large multinationals that have the capacity to pay higher salaries than ordinary businesses.
  • Many petroleum engineers work long hours, sometimes across continents, and their compensation packages have to reflect that.

Is Petroleum Engineering Difficult?

To some extent, petroleum engineering is harder to study and practice than many engineering disciplines. 

Its heavy reliance on maths and physics as well as chemical engineering and advanced data analysis concepts gives it a relatively high dropout rate among college students.

On the other hand, the long hours and stress that accompany the job also drive many engineers to change careers within a few years of starting.

Also read: Electrical engineering vs. petroleum engineering

Which Branch of Petroleum Engineering Pays the Most?

According to the BLS, the highest paying gigs for petroleum engineers are in management and consultancy, with the median wage being $167,000 as of December 2021.

Engineers providing ordinary services come in second on the pay scale, earning an average of $155,000. 

Petroleum engineers working in the oil and gas extraction industry and those involved in the manufacturing sector get lower but decent median wages of $137, 500 and $131, 200 respectively.

Is There a Lot of Math in Petroleum Engineering?

Petroleum engineering as a major requires intensive knowledge of mathematical concepts like calculus, differential equations, statistics, and linear algebra.

In practice, knowing how to accurately calculate distances, temperatures, and pressures is very important since inaccurate or wrong calculations can result in losses worth millions. 

See if mechanical engineers can switch to petroleum.

Final Thoughts

Studying petroleum engineering as a major may be hard, and practicing it as a profession might be even harder. But with a little bit of dedication, it’s doable and completely worth it. 

Apart from being one of the best paying professions in the world, it’s a highly engaging and rewarding job, where you get to travel the world and interact with people from different cultures.