Back in 2004, the petroleum engineering industry was in a tight situation. Petroleum engineers were a rare commodity, and oil companies were looking for fresh college graduates. Most petroleum engineers were already aging by then, and many people dreaded a looming staffing crunch. The last decade was a difficult time, indeed.
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Today, however, the tables have turned and the future looks promising. A flourishing job market and high starting salaries have ushered in a new wave of future petroleum engineers to continue the legacy of distinguished forerunners, such as Dr. Ali Ghalambor and Dr. Boyun Guo.
The major factor: attractive starting salaries
In 2011, CNBC reported that petroleum engineers get one of the highest starting salaries, with fresh graduates expecting to earn a whopping $80,849 per year. In 2012, Ostermann reported that the figure rose to a minimum of $89,000 per annum—a large payoff for a mere bachelor’s degree.
Paul Willhite, a distinguished engineering professor at the University of Kansas, believes that many factors lie behind the sudden employment boom. Among these factors, oil prices have been most indicative.
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“One is the oil price is at historic levels, and it’s unlikely to go down much in the future,” he said. “In my view, the era of cheap oil has passed.”
Moreover, the impending retirement of many middle-aged petroleum engineers has threatened a likely turnover, further raising the demand for workers.
With all these taken into account, taking a petroleum engineering course may be more relevant now than it ever was in recent history.
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