Drilling Engineer Degree Program Overviews

Explore an undergraduate degree program for the prospective drilling engineer. Discover the educational requirements for admission and see examples of program coursework. Examine the employment outlook statistics for industry specialists.

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Essential Information

Individuals wishing to work in drilling engineering typically need a bachelor's degree. Though degree programs specific to drilling engineering are not available, a bachelor's degree program in petroleum engineering provides classes and training in this area. A high school diploma and specific prerequisite coursework might be required of applicants.

Undergraduate degree programs in petroleum engineering include a combination of science, math and engineering courses. Students gain the skills needed to find and design systems to extract minerals, oil and gas from beneath the earth's surface. This bachelor's degree program trains budding drilling engineers in the basics of designing, drilling and operating well systems. The education they obtain might also prepare program graduates to become certified by passing a qualifying examination.

Education Prerequisites

Applicants to an undergraduate engineering program must have a high school diploma or equivalent. Some schools may also require applicants to have completed extra math or science courses in high school. Prospective students may also be required to hold a minimum GPA of 2.5 or 3.0 in college prep courses and meet minimum SAT or ACT math scores.

Program Coursework

A bachelor's degree program in petroleum engineering includes general education courses, as well as core courses relating to the drilling and mining industry. Course topics relating specifically to drilling engineering may include:

  • Evaluating formations
  • Evaluating petroleum projects
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Mechanics of materials
  • Models for reservoirs
  • Wells performance
  • Preventing well blowouts
  • Systems of petroleum production

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not have data specific to drilling engineers; however, they have predicted that there will be a 17% growth of petroleum engineering jobs from 2010-2020 (www.bls.gov). This increase is about as fast as average, with higher oil prices and the retirement of many current petroleum engineers expected to create new jobs. The BLS also reported that the average annual wage for a petroleum engineer was $147,470 in May 2012.

Continuing Education, Certification and Licensure Information

Although a graduate degree is not necessary for most drilling engineer jobs, master's degree programs in petroleum engineering are available. Graduate studies in petroleum are often tailored to the goals of the student and prepare graduates to take on technical and managerial responsibilities. At this level, students may be able to specialize in the drilling engineer aspect of petroleum engineering.

Drilling engineers may also choose to earn voluntary certification from the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) or the American Association of Drilling Engineers (AADE). Certification typically requires completion of a formal education program, industry experience and passing an exam.

All states also require licensure for engineers who work with the public. Licensure requirements may vary slightly by state, but typically include completing an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology-accredited degree program, four years of experience and passing a test. Those who complete this process may use the title of professional engineer (P.E.).

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