Petroleum Technicians


Education and Training Requirements

High School

High school courses in drafting, mechanics, or auto shop are valuable preparation, especially for drilling and production technicians. Computer skills are particularly important for engineering technicians, as are typing and English courses.

Postsecondary Training

Some postsecondary training or on-the-job training under direct supervision of an experienced technician is required for most petroleum technician positions, while others require an advanced education. For example, a mud test technician must have at least a bachelor's degree in geology. Although postsecondary training is not usually required for drilling, production, or engineering technicians, these workers can gain familiarity with specified basic processes through special education in technical or community colleges. Postsecondary training can also help entry-level workers compete with experienced workers.

Petroleum technology programs, located primarily at schools in the West and Southwest, are helpful both for newcomers to the field and for those trying to upgrade their job skills. An associate's degree in applied science can be earned by completing a series of technical and education courses.

Petroleum technology programs provide training in drilling operations, fluids, and equipment; production methods; formation evaluation along with the basics of core analysis; and well completion methods and petroleum property evaluation, including evaluation of production history data and basic theories and techniques of economic analysis. These programs emphasize practical applications in the laboratory, field trips, and summer employment, as available.

Specialized training programs designed for oil company employees are offered by the suppliers of the special materials, equipment, or services.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

There are no certification or licensing requirements for petroleum technicians.

Other Requirements

Petroleum technicians must be strong enough to lift 60 pounds of weight to waist level and 40 pounds above chest level. They also need a valid driver's license

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Aspiring petroleum technicians should take as many math and science classes as possible and participate in college internships to gain experience in the field. Some technicians specialists obtain most of their experience via on-the-job training or through special training programs offered by the suppliers of petroleum industry materials, equipment, or services.

Petroleum technicians must have attention to detail because mistakes can be costly or hazardous to the technician and to others in the workplace. You should also be able to work both independently and as part of a team, display manual dexterity, mathematical aptitude, and be willing to work irregular and long hours.

Much of the work in the petroleum industry involves physical labor and is potentially dangerous. Employees must be able to work in extreme weather conditions, and be flexible about working conditions and hours. Drilling crews may be away from their home for weeks or months, while technicians on offshore rigs must be able to deal with a restricted environment for several days at a time. Petroleum technicians must also like working with machinery, scientific equipment and instruments, and computers. In addition, petroleum technicians must have good eyesight and hearing and excellent hand, eye, and body coordination.

Some petroleum technicians require additional safety training, including hazardous materials training and first-aid training. In some cases, special physical examinations and drug testing are required. Testing and examinations generally take place after technicians are hired.