What Does a Petroleum Engineering Technologist Do?

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 8, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in a hands-on job in the oil and gas industry, becoming a petroleum engineering technologist may be a good option for you. Petroleum engineering technologists focus on the production of crude oil and natural gas. Learning more about the role can help you determine whether it's a career you're interested in pursuing. In this article, we answer the question, "What does a petroleum engineering technologist do?", explain how to become one, discuss their average salary and working conditions, and answer frequently asked questions you may have about the position.

What does a petroleum engineering technologist do?

You can better understand the answer to, "What does a petroleum engineering technologist do?", it's best to review their job duties. Petroleum engineer technologists focus on studying and assessing gas and oil reservoirs to analyze their profitability. They may examine maps of these reservoirs to determine the best and most efficient ways to access these energy resources and where to place wells. Their primary goal is to ensure the most economical production from a reservoir while also adhering to safety and environmental standards. Many petroleum engineer technologists use computer technology to analyze potential production rates and flow from a well.

Duties that a petroleum engineer technologist may perform include:

  • Designing equipment that will be used to extract gas or oil

  • Developing plans to extract natural energy sources

  • Operating machinery used to drill or recover gas or oil

  • Studying reservoir maps to determine the most efficient placement of wells

  • Performing technical consultations to resolve problems during the drilling process

  • Designing surface collections

  • Developing new techniques for recovering natural gases

Related: Six Types of Engineer Careers

How to become a petroleum engineering technologist

If you're interested in becoming a petroleum engineering technologist, here are the steps you can take to do so:

1. Get a high school diploma or GED

To apply for specialized training as a petroleum engineering technologist, you need a high school diploma or GED. Focus on getting good grades in school to strengthen your application to different training programs, especially since some schools may have a minimum grade requirement. While in school, consider taking relevant classes, such as mathematics, chemistry, and physics, to help prepare you for advanced versions of these classes during your training.

Related: How to Become a Petroleum Engineer (With Steps and Tips)

2. Pursue a petroleum engineering technology diploma

Once you have a high school diploma or GED, you can apply to schools that offer specialized petroleum engineering technology training. Many schools across Canada offer this program as the oil and gas industry is constantly growing, so you have plenty of options. It typically takes two to three years to complete the program and obtain a diploma.

Each program has a unique curriculum, that typically consists of the following courses:

  • Project management

  • Mathematics

  • Physics

  • Chemistry

  • Electrotechnology

  • Computers

  • Mechanics

  • Fluid mechanics

  • Thermodynamics

  • Materials and processes

  • Drilling

3. Complete field placement

Most petroleum engineering technologist programs also include field placement. This gives you the opportunity to get hands-on industry experience under direct supervision from a certified petroleum engineering technologist. Even if your program doesn't require you to complete a placement, it may be a good idea to pursue one on your own to get experience. Consider internships or volunteer opportunities with petroleum companies to get experience and show prospective employers you have the necessary skills and knowledge.

4. Consider pursuing a bachelor's degree

Although a bachelor's degree isn't a requirement for becoming a petroleum engineering technologist, having one can help you stand out over other candidates. It can also help you pursue more advanced positions with higher pay. Some schools offer bachelor degree programs in petroleum engineering which can take three to four years to complete, so it's important to factor that into your decision-making process.

5. Register with your province or territory's association

Getting a petroleum engineering technologist diploma allows you to register with the relevant association in your province or territory. Each province and territory may have a different name for it, but they typically call the association the Association of Engineering Technicians and Technologists. Once you register, you're able to work as a petroleum engineering technologist.

6. Update your resume

To pursue a petroleum engineering technologist position, you need an updated resume. The first thing employers may look for is your credentials. They want to ensure you're legally allowed to work as a petroleum engineering technologist, so it's important to include your diploma or degree at the top of your resume. Then, include any relevant work experience you have, such as your placement, internship, or volunteer experience. This shows prospective employers you have industry-specific experience.

Finally, include any hard or soft skills you have that are relevant to the position. To determine which skills to include, look at job postings or descriptions for keywords that employers mention a lot. For example, they may mention specific skills they want candidates to have. Include these keywords in your resume to help you stand out over other candidates and improve your chances of receiving an invitation to interview. Try to create a new resume for every job you apply for as well. This allows you to include specific information each employer is looking for in a candidate.

Average salary and working conditions

The national average salary of a petroleum engineering technologist is $75,011 per year. This salary varies depending on your education, experience, the company you work for, and your location. Petroleum engineering technologists typically split their time between head offices or field offices and a wellsite. When in the office, they may spend their time meeting with their team and planning upcoming projects.

When on a wellsite, petroleum engineering technologists perform a lot of hands-on work, such as operating machinery. Wellsites are typically in remote locations, so petroleum engineering technologists may have to live onsite until the project is complete. This can mean they're on call 24 hours, 7 days a week.

Related: How to Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

Frequently asked questions about becoming a petroleum engineering technologist

To help you determine whether becoming a petroleum engineering technologist is the right career choice for you, consider the following answers to frequently asked questions you may have:

What skills and attributes does a petroleum engineering technologist need?

Successful petroleum engineer technologists need the following skills and attributes:

  • Teamwork: Petroleum engineer technologists typically work as a team to complete projects or with government officials and community members to plan a project. For example, drilling, reservoir, petrophysical, and production engineers all work together to find, analyze, and extract natural resources from a reservoir.

  • Computer proficiency: Petroleum engineer technologists often use various systems to perform their job functions and must be able to determine how a system works as well as how various factors may influence its productivity.

  • Decision-making: As a petroleum engineer technologist, you may make important decisions, such as how a certain action can affect a project. You can also use these skills to decide the most efficient way to perform certain tasks as part of the development and extraction processes of this career.

  • Creativity: Each new site that a petroleum engineer technologist works on may present new challenges and require new ways to extract oil or gas. As a petroleum engineer technologist, it's important for you to analyze and develop creative solutions for addressing challenging drill sites.

Related: What's the Difference Between Hard Skills and Soft Skills?

What are the branches of petroleum engineering?

There are many specialities within petroleum engineering, such as the following:

  • Drilling engineering: Drilling engineers are responsible for all aspects of the drilling process in the oil field. They may design and implement the techniques used to drill into the earth, as well as select the equipment used and oversee the drilling process.

  • Production and surface facilities engineering: This branch of petroleum engineering is in charge of overseeing production after the completion of a well. These engineers may implement various controls and equipment used to extract crude oil or gas from the well and may also measure and control the fluids produced.

  • Reservoir engineering: A reservoir engineer focuses on how gas and oil flow through porous rock, as well as the distribution process of these energy sources. They may establish well-drainage patterns, estimate the performance of a reservoir, and create new methods to increase production.

  • Petrophysical engineering: This sector of petroleum engineering is concerned with creating tools and techniques used to analyze the characteristics of energy sources. These engineers help all other petroleum engineers better understand the reservoir rock-fluid system.

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