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Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer?

  1. Jul 8, 2011 #1
    Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    Moderator's note: several related threads have been merged into one.

    I am trying to decide between these majors. I am going to be a Senior in High School next year. I live in Washington State. If I was a petroleum engineer, I would have to move to another state, right? How are the job opportunities for each of the 3? How stable are they? All these fields interest me and the pay in petroleum is really nice. I'm not too sure if I want to live in Texas thought. I'm not a big fan of that hot of weather. Which one should I choose and why?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2011
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 8, 2011 #2
    Re: Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    The pay in petroleum is nice, but honestly, after about five years experience with ANY engineering profession, if you're wanting more money, you're just a greedy slob. Why don't you choose based on what interests you?

    I'll say this. Aerospace engineers CAN work as mechanical engineers, and can work very well. There will always be planes and rockets that need to be designed and built. Obviously mechanical engineers will always be able to find a job somewhere, even if we regress to the dark ages. Petroleum engineers... well, I guess it really depends on whether we as a species decide to move beyond oil like we need to. I don't see petroleum being very useful in thirty years. Just food for thought.
  4. Jul 8, 2011 #3
    Re: Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    I said they all interest me. I really want to work for Boeing and work on Airplanes. I don't really want to be a Petroleum Engineer because I don't want to move out of Washington. Since I want to work on airplanes, should I go for Aerospace? Or should I go with Mechanical so I have more opportunities if I ever change my mind. What about a major in aero and a minor in Mech? Or vice versa? What would you recommend?
  5. Jul 8, 2011 #4
    Re: Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    Aerospace. Because rockets.
  6. Jul 9, 2011 #5
    What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    I'm not saying I'm going to go into it, I'm just curios what you guys think. I'm either going to become a Mechanical or Aerospace engineer — they both interest me a lot. Are those good jobs for the future? I'm going to be a senior in high school next year. I am also interested in Computer Science. Is that a good career? I heard you need at least a Masters to get a good job in it. I was planning on getting a masters in the field I go into anyway. So, what will be the best engineering in the future (10-15 years), is Aerospace and Mechanical engineering good, and is computer science good?

  7. Jul 9, 2011 #6
    Re: What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    It's pretty hard to say. When I was in about grade 10 (just 4 years ago) I was repeatedly told that computer/software and even electrical engineering were going to be dead-end degrees by the time I would graduate, since all the jobs would be outsourced to Asia. Now it seems like that outsourcing trend has pretty much reversed, and demand is steadily growing for software/computer engineers from North America. The point of that isn't to say that software/electrical will be the best in the near future, the point is that it seems like it's pretty much a guessing game. Especially trying to look 10-15 years in the future.
  8. Jul 9, 2011 #7
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2017
  9. Jul 9, 2011 #8
    Re: What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    Anything someone tells you today is probably accurate for getting your first job out of college. But in terms of choosing a career, it's all guesswork.

    Do what you enjoy most. You may not make top dollar doing it, but if you're any good, you won't starve. And let me be the first to tell you: No amount of money is enough for those who hate their work.
  10. Jul 9, 2011 #9
    Re: What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    I am really interested in Aerospace. I want to become an Aerospace Engineer, but I have heard that they don't have a good job market and the jobs aren't steady.
  11. Jul 9, 2011 #10
    Re: What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    well Im a junior physics major and I have also been asking around about engineering jobs. My father is an EE and he seems to think that's a fine choice, he did say Aerospace is a hit or miss career, sometimes its booming others its a drought
  12. Jul 9, 2011 #11
    Re: What Engineering field will be the best in the future?

    Aerospace engineering does have that boom/bust reputation. However, like many things, it depends upon where you decide to work. Yes, the sexy high profile jobs have a way of evaporating when you least expect it.

    However, few people I know stick with any one form of engineering over their entire careers. You inevitably learn other stuff while working on a project of any size. That other stuff may surprise you and you may decide that it is worth pursuing.

    I used to be very interested in RF engineering (and I still am). However, I later discovered control systems engineering and found that mathematically it is very similar, but with more attention paid to a quick settling to steady state. I also found that it has many interesting practical applications that I never considered. I even get to leverage some of that RF engineering experience I have. As a result, though I have an electrical engineering degree, I took the Principles and Practices exam for control systems engineering.

    If you want a start in Aerospace, consider pursuing it. If it doesn't turn out to be everything that you might want, don't worry, you probably will have marketable skills in other things you picked up while learning the Aerospace stuff. For example, I know someone who started in aerospace engineering and later decided to become a patent attorney. I know another who started off as an electrical engineer and later became a CIO. The degree you choose is only your starting point. Where you end up in your career is something you'll have to discover for yourself.
  13. Jul 9, 2011 #12
    Mechanical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering?

    I want to work in the Aerospace industry because that really interests me, but maybe I should major in MechE and get a masters in Aerospace. What is the job security like in Aerospace? Is the aerospace engineering a stable field in the US? I was thinking that I should major in mechanical engineering because it's a broad field and get a Masters in Aero, so even if I can't get a job in the aerospace industry, I can still find other jobs that aren't in the aerospace category.
  14. Jul 9, 2011 #13
    Re: Mechanical Engineering or Aerospace Engineering?

    I would definitely recommed a masters in either case. Based on what you said, I would earn a B.S. in aerospace engineering and the masters in mechanical. In a general sense in all situations, you can emphasize your MS degree in mechanical engineering. But if you want to work in aerospace, you have the BS degree in this field.
  15. Jul 10, 2011 #14
    Undergrad in Mechanical Engineering and Masters in Aerospace Engineering?

    Is it a good idea to get a Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Aerospace Engineering? My goal is to work in the Aerospace Industry, but I have heard that it isn't the most stable. If it gets very unstable again, I would like something to fall back on (Which would be my Mechanical Engineering). Or should I get a Bachelors and Masters in Aerospace with a minor in Mechanical? What about a minor in math? (I enjoy math very much). Ultimately, I would like to be an Aerospace engineer because it interests me so much.

  16. Jul 10, 2011 #15


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    Re: Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    Moderator's note: several related threads have been merged into one.
  17. Jul 11, 2011 #16


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    Re: Petroleum Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, or Aerospace Engineer??

    As far as petroleum engineering is concerned, it might not be neccessary to move to Texas, although here along the gulf coast is the largest amount of industry. There are places in Washington to work and back in 2006 I was working with quite a few recruits specifically from Washington because of expansion work being done up there. There's also development in Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, etc. Beyond that, unless you have your heart set, my suggestion would not be to limit yourself with petroleum engineering. It's very easy to get into that same field as a mechanical or chemical engineer. Those types of engineers in the same field will be filling similar positions and also receiving similar pay. If you're seeing drastic differences in advertised pay, it's most likely the because broader fields get watered down by jobs that aren't in the same industry. Bottom line is that the oil/gas/petrochemical/chemical industry pays very well, regardless and for something that you want to make a career out of, the last thing you want to do is limit yourself, or do what you don't want simply for a little bit of money (and you will eventually realize what a small bit of money it actually is).
  18. Mar 7, 2013 #17
    I have a MS in aerospace engineering and work for a major defense contractor... I went for AE because I've always been around aircraft and I have an aptitude for engineering. However, I just witnessed my first mass layoff of around 200 employees company-wide, and I know the other big companies are laying people off too. Of course, they don't call it laying people off because that would mean they would have to pay unemployment, so they fire people instead and say it was because of unsatisfactory level of work for their job grades (most of those affected were the higher job grades).

    So, working as an aerospace engineer, you get paid decently well, have plenty of free time, relaxed atmosphere, but terrible job security. My mom knows several people in the petroleum engineering field that have guaranteed me a job if I want to switch over, and I'm considering it. By comparison I would be looking at more than twice my annual income and better job security... my concern is towards the work atmosphere and free time... and it appears I'll never get out of texas on a more permanent basis... anyway, life is a series of trade-offs.
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