Whether you work for a major oil company like ExxonMobil or an independent refiner such as HollyFrontier, refinery engineers have a variety of career paths to explore.
Larger oil companies offer more diverse locations, faster career development, and a greater depth of exposure, but smaller companies also have their perks. In this article I’ll share insights into the different avenues one can take when entering the glorious world of an oil refiner.
While every new grad often wonders where his career will take him 15 years down the line, there are hardly any careers in this world that offer the endless possibilities that one in the oil industry can present. It doesn’t matter if you hold a degree in chemical engineering or one in electrical engineering, every door remains open to capable engineers.
The first thing to recognize is that a refinery career path is very multi-dimensional. Most refinery engineers start their careers in a very technical role - from process engineering to design engineering. However, as time progresses, many engineers find that their experiences diversify to include various management and technical roles throughout the entire organization.
It’s best to view a refinery career path using the diagram below – think of it as 3 x 2 matrix where primary job tasks exist between Engineering, Commercial, and Operations. Within each of the three primary categories, one can progress between Technical and Management assignments.