Job Description

Petroleum Engineer Versus Civil Engineer: Which One is Better?

Petroleum Engineer Versus Civil Engineer: Which One is Better? Engineering is a broad field with one of the highest-earning professionals across various areas of subspeciality within the engineering profession. There are many similarities within courses taken by engineering students for example, engineering students are required to have a good knowledge of mathematics, technical drawings and in some cases physics.

However, the difference between petroleum engineering and civil engineering becomes clearer with their job prospects and job description.

Petroleum Engineer Versus Civil Engineer: Which One is Better?

Who Is A Petroleum Engineer?

Petroleum engineers are involved in the whole process that leads to the production of petroleum and its by-products.  Their knowledge and expertise are applied during the extraction process, production process, and analysis of the safety of the product. Most engineers work within the following areas of specialization;

  • Drilling engineering
  • Production engineering
  • Surface facilities engineering
  • Reservoir engineering
  • Petroleum geology


Most petroleum engineers work 9-5 or within shifts depending on their area of expertise and level within the firm they work for. During the early days of their career, they are sometimes required to spend a lot of time away from home as they sometimes work on oil rigs offshore in regions with limited connectivity to other areas.

Who Is A Civil Engineer?

Civil engineers are involved in creating, improving and protecting the environment in which we live through making safe and cost-effective designs and blueprints that can be used in the construction and maintenance of roads, railways, buildings, dams, irrigation projects e.t.c

The ultimate goal of a civil engineer is to build structures and edifices that are strong, durable and can be maintained easily with available resources. Most jobs within this field could either be consulting where you work primarily to design projects as required by clients while those who are construction based engineers make use of designs from the consultants for implementation during construction.

The work schedule is typically full time with normal working hours except on days when extra hours and days are required to complete construction projects with deadlines.

As one progresses into management positions, a lot of roles require that you have a postgraduate education either in business administration, civil engineering or related fields which is relevant to the role you are applying to. Having great interpersonal, communication, analytical and critical thinking skills also help with working effectively in your job role.

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Career Opportunities For Civil Engineers

While working in different organisations as a civil engineer, you can progress in your career in the following roles;


  • Consulting Civil Engineer: As a consulting engineer, your work would be centred around creating designs that meet the client’s specifications and can be used during construction of the required edifices
  • Construction Civil Engineer: These type of civil engineers work based on the design obtained from consulting engineers to ensure the constructions at the site are built in line with the blueprint. usually, entry-level graduates mostly start as construction engineers before progressing into consulting with clients
  • Water Engineer:  Water Engineers act as specialists to oversee the construction of structures such as dams, irrigation systems, sewage systems e.t.c
  • Site Engineer:  site engineers oversee all activities going on at the construction site. they approve the use of the equipment and monitor how supplies are managed during the construction process.

Career Opportunities For Petroleum Engineers

While working in different organisations as a petroleum engineer you can progress in your career in the following roles;

  • Health and Safety specialist: As a Health and Safety specialist, you would be able to give a first-hand assessment of the work environment and possible hazards. Most oil firms employ health and safety specialists especially for work offshore to give recommendations on how to make work environments less Hazardous for their workers.
  • Drilling engineers: they work to determine the best way and method to drill oil or gas wells by taking into consideration possible factors such as including cost, safety to the environment, and efficiency of the proposed method.
  • Reservoir engineers: reservoir engineers carry out methods to estimate how much oil or gas can be recovered from underground deposits commonly referred to as reservoirs. They spend time studying reservoirs’ characteristics and determine which methods be the most efficient to obtain large amounts of oil or gas out of the reservoirs. They also monitor operations to ensure that optimal levels of these resources are being recovered.
  • Production engineers: take over wells after drilling is completed. They typically monitor wells’ oil and gas production. If wells are not producing as much as expected, production engineers figure out ways to increase the amount being extracted.

Petroleum Engineer Versus Civil Engineer: Which One is Better?

All roles in engineering roles require that one has a good theoretical knowledge of their courses while also having great interpersonal skills, teamwork and problem-solving skills. This skills can either be earned through internships or from participating in various activities during their bachelor’s degree.

But if one is looking to continue long term, then you would have to get a postgraduate degree or relevant professional certifications related to your field and work experience for easy progression into more senior and management roles.

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