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Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

I am pondering a career switch from civil/structural engineering to an engineer for a large (~6,000 employees) independent oil and gas producer. I would still be practicing engineering, but it would be a facilities engineer position. I have over 10 years experience in civil with about half of that doing structural engineering, mostly bridges, but I have also been a field engineer for a DOT, worked on large and small site/land developments and done some municipal work (streets and water mains).

I would think some of the skills would be transferable, such as reading and understanding geotechnical reports, foundation and structural design, familiarity with surveying, as well as things like creating grading plan and maybe plan and profile drawings.

I'm curious if anyone else has had a similar experience good or bad. I'd love to hear any advice.


RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

Is this an opportunity that you already have on the table and are thinking about accepting?

My experience is that it is incredibly hard to switch from any field in to the Oil and Gas production side of things. Facilities may be a little easier, but I know that the completions/reservoir engineering side of things is quite difficult to get your foot in the door. At one point when I had ~3 years experience working for an EPC Oil and Gas consulting company I thought about getting in to the production side. I was ready and willing to take everything from Technician level jobs and higher, field and office. Filled out quite a few applications with no response. YMMV though.

I would expect that you would have to take a cut in the level of job you accept, but seeing as it's an Oil and Gas producer, the financial cut may not be anything substantial (depending on the position).


RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

This is an opportunity that is on the table through another engineer with someone who works there. This person is in a position where he thinks it is fairly likely. There isn't an offer on the table.

This wouldn't be in the completions or reservoir side of things. I would definitely not be making the money of a chemical or petroleum engineer with 10 years of experience, but I don't think I would take a cut in pay from what I am making right now. I know someone in HR with a midstream company, and I was surprised at what people with only a few years experience were making there (i.e. more than civils).

I am more curious about if anyone has had an experience like this. There are elements of civil, electrical, mechanical and chemical engineering. I don't see how only one type of engineer could perform all those functions better than another.

RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

I was able to swap over from the HVAC industry to facilities. It was not that hard, just realizing you will have to start from the bottom again until you get your knowledge base built up.
The only other issue you will face is having to report to engineers who are 3 to 5 years out of college, but have more oilfield experience than you.

Future PE Engineer
Pet project I am working on to help other engineers, not much yet hoping to get it grow as I learn more

RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

I'd do it if I were you.

Hydrology, Drainage Analysis, Flood Studies, and Complex Stormwater Litigation for Atlanta and the South East - http://www.campbellcivil.com

RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas

I have two immutable rules for onshore single-well gas wellsite construction: (1) no piece of equipment that requires a permanent foundation is ever allowed; and (2) no piece of equipment that requires a crane to deploy is allowed. For pad wells, oil wells, and difficult wells (H2S, very high temperatures, etc.) these rules don't apply.

Since I don't allow foundations or cranes, bridge and foundation work really doesn't move you up my list of candidates.

On the other hand, it turns out that most of field facilities engineering is prospect-development and project management. Skills that an experienced Civil Engineer is required to have in abundance. The main thing that you should bone up on is the ASME (or ISO) piping codes. If you can speak ASME B31.3, B16.5, B31.8 (for gas outside of plants and wellsites), and B31.4 then you are miles ahead of a new grad.

The scope of the job is pretty broad. We use specialist consultants for most of the esoteric things, but the project manager has to be able to communicate with all the skills that he has to import. If you want to get a feel for the scope of things that you have to be able to communicate about take a look at 5-Day Class Flyer. There is an outline on the second page of the scope of the class (field of study).

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. —Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: Changing Careers from Civil Engineering to Oil and Gas


Still looking to switch into oil & gas? ;)

I watched everyone around me whine for years about how those in resources make heaps more than everyone else. Most have short memories regarding the realities of the swing cycle economic realities of resources.

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