Petroleum engineers specialise in methods of extracting gas and oil from the Earth so these resources can be refined and used by consumers. These engineers understand the best drilling methods to use for a particular resource and its location, and they often design equipment to perform the required drilling task. Petroleum engineers spend time both in the office planning resource recovery and on site overseeing drilling and other operations. With natural resources found around the globe, petroleum engineers can find themselves employed in a variety of countries and earning significant starting salaries.
Engineers in general attract some of the highest starting salaries of all professions, and petroleum engineers in particular tend to top the list. The average starting salary of a petroleum engineer with a graduate degree is £27,000 to £36,500 per year as of 2014, according to the Prospects UK careers website. Salaries at the higher end of this scale are available to those with a PhD qualification.
After gaining more experience, petroleum engineers can expect a significant uplift in salary with earnings around £52,000 to £95,000 per year. Location also affects salary payments. In time of demand, experienced freelance petroleum engineers may earn more than £1,000 per day, says Prospects UK.
Starting salary comparison
Petroleum engineers with graduate degrees earn more in starting salaries than other engineers by far. Starting salaries for mechanical engineers, for example, are around 30 per cent less than for petroleum engineers. According to Prospects UK, mechanical engineer starting salaries average £20,000 to £26,000 per year as of 2014.
In addition to having the highest starting salary among engineers, petroleum engineers also have the best job prospects. Petroleum engineering jobs are expected to rise by 18 per cent over a 10-year period, increasing to 25,900 positions in 2018 from 21,900 in 2008. As growing economies require more resources, the need for petroleum engineers is expected to outpace the number of graduates seeking their first jobs.
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