How Hard Is Petroleum Engineering

By David Krug David Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He's a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he's not reading about cryptocurrencies, he's researching the latest personal finance software. 4 minute read

A career as a petroleum engineer can be yours with a master’s degree in petroleum engineering, one of the highest-paying master’s degrees available. You might be wondering what happens next, especially in terms of certification. The National Council of Examiners for Engineering administers a series of professional examinations for engineers in order to be licensed by state licensing boards. Many factors must be taken into account, including whether or not licensure is required for a petroleum engineer’s career goals.

Getting a license in engineering

The Professional Engineering (PE) license is awarded to all engineers, regardless of discipline. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that in order to obtain a PE license, you must meet four requirements. To begin, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree in engineering from an ABET-accredited program (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). It’s not necessary to have a master’s degree to do this. Engineers who want to become licensed typically begin the process as soon as they finish their bachelor’s degree.

Obtaining your professional license necessitates passing not one but two exams. The Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam is the first of these tests. You’ll need to work as an engineer for a while after passing your first exam before taking the second. According to the BLS, most states require engineers to have at least four years of work experience before they can sit for the second exam.

Known as the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam or the Professional Engineering exam, this is the second exam in the engineering certification process. To become a fully licensed engineer, you may need to pass a specific jurisdiction-specific exam, obtain a letter of recommendation from an established engineer, or reside in the state for a certain period of time.

As a professional engineer, you’ve accomplished a great deal, but you still have a lot to learn. Continuing education is necessary in fields like engineering, where new innovations are constantly advancing the field, in order to stay up to date and maintain a license.

Petroleum Engineers must have a license to practice professional engineering.

Both the Fundamentals of Engineering licensing exam and the Principles and Practice of Engineering licensing exam are available in a variety of specializations. Aspiring petroleum engineers may find this difficult to comprehend. The Principles and Practice of Engineering exam is offered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying in 16 different fields, including petroleum engineering. A seventh exam is available for “other disciplines,” but the Fundamentals of Engineering exams only cover six different fields of study.

Using theories and methods from mechanical, civil, and environmental engineering, petroleum engineering is an interdisciplinary discipline. These backgrounds are common for engineers working in this field, especially if they were unable to focus on petroleum engineering in college or if they wanted to keep their options open.

When it comes to taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, there is no hard and fast rule. Students who majored in more than one area of engineering may choose the exam that best matches their academic interests. Some test-takers choose to take the exam in a different field.

Most importantly, you must pass this exam in order to continue your training as an engineer in training or as an engineer intern and to complete the rest of the licensing process. Pass rates for the Fundamentals of Engineering exams ranged from 66% to 76% between July 2020 and December 2020. Mechanical engineering (75 percent), chemical engineering (74 percent), and electrical and computer engineering (75 percent) all had higher pass rates than environmental engineering (72 percent). With respect to civil engineering, 69% of the test-takers were successful; in the “other disciplines” exam category, 68% were successful; while in the “industrial/systems” category, 66% were successful.

Engineers may need a refresher course on engineering fundamentals if they plan on taking the other disciplines test, regardless of their specific field of study. For the other Fundamentals of Engineering exams, the pass rate varied greatly based on the test-educational taker’s level. The exam was passed by 87% of those who had studied naval architecture and marine engineering, but only 33% had earned a degree in petroleum engineering. Good news: first-time candidates for the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam in petroleum engineering passed with a much higher rate than the national average of 35%.

Only 43 programs worldwide offer a petroleum engineering bachelor’s degree, according to ABET (30 in the United States).

Are There Any Restrictions on Petroleum Engineers?

Petroleum engineers needn’t worry about getting their PE license right away. A license may be required later on if you want to work in a supervisory or independent capacity, according to the BLS, but it is not required for entry-level positions.

As an example, if you choose to serve the public in a direct capacity, such as as a consultant or by starting your own engineering firm, you would need a license. Engineers who hold leadership positions in which they supervise other engineers may be required to have a license. Engineering licensure is popular and common in certain fields like civil and environmental engineering, but in many other fields, such as petroleum engineering, there are fewer engineers seeking licensure.

You don’t need a license as a new graduate, but preparing for this future possibility by taking the Fundamentals of Engineering exam is a good idea.” As early as their senior year of undergraduate study, engineering students can sit for the Fundamentals of Engineering exam. The exam’s content is closely related to the fundamentals of the field that you study in your undergraduate engineering core courses. Many students choose to do so

Per the National Society of Professional Engineers, professional licensure gives engineers of all specialties more authority and prestige, as well as more options for career advancement and flexibility, as well as a higher salary and more security in their employment.

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