Next Steps In Oil And Gas: Continuing Education, Professional Certification And Grad School


Wondering how you can incorporate your existing education and pick up new skills to break into the petroleum industry?

From transferring credits to professional accreditation, here are some continuing education options geared toward a career in the oil and gas industry.


Transferring current credits – undergraduate and college diploma programs

There are several Canadian institutions which offer programs in petroleum engineering or technology.

If you’re interested in making the switch, make sure to consult the registrar’s office to ensure your past credits are transferable and which credits you’ll need to make up.


Professional certifications

Attaining a professional certification, depending  on your field, can allow you to work on more complex projects, can make you a more attractive candidate to employers, and can help you move into management roles more quickly.

Many certifications require one to five years of relevant work experience in combination with an undergraduate degree (or sometimes more work experience for those with a college diploma), plus membership to the appropriate association or society, a portfolio of work or an employment history, courses, examinations, sponsors and other criteria.


Getting an engineering degree does not make you an engineer; only a professional engineer (P.Eng.) is licensed to practise engineering in Canada. Engineering graduates must register with their provincial or territorial licensing bodies to become and Engineer-In-Training (EIT) or Member-In-Training (MIT), and then complete at least two to four years of internship experience as well as an exam. Upon successful completion, professional engineers receive a licence to practise and a seal to stamp the designs and drawings they create.

If you’re still a student, check out the student membership programs to get better acquainted with the whole process.

Stakeholder relations

Oil and gas development and community interests often cross over and industry activities often affect surrounding areas and populations. The industry understands that many stakeholders have questions or concerns about its operations, and that it has a responsibility to understand and respond to these concerns.

Stakeholder relations professionals work closely with the people whose land is affected by oil and gas development and host community open houses to provide information and gather feedback, which is used in making important development decisions.

College and university students enrolled in full-time public relations programs can become student members of their local chapters of the Canadian Public Relations Society.

College and university students enrolled in full-time public relations programs can become student members of their local chapters of the Canadian Public Relations Society, and can begin pursuing the accreditation process (Accredited Public Relations, or APR) as a member of the society after five years of working full-time in public relations.

The International Association of Business Communicators also allows professional communicators with at least a bachelor’s degree to begin the accreditation process after five years of full-time (among other criteria). There is currently only one IABC student chapter in Canada, at Algonquin College, but the association also offers reduced membership rates for recent graduates.

Health and safety

Oil and natural gas work sites are safety sensitive because people are operating heavy moving equipment and sometimes handling hazardous substances.

For grads with education or experience in occupational health, safety or environment, professional designations through the Board of Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (Canadian Registered Safety Professional, or CRSP) and the Canadian Registered Safety Professionals (Certified Safety Professional, or CSP) will help ensure best practices are followed with a “safety first” attitude.

Again, certification requires a related degree or diploma and a few years of relevant work experience.

Land negotiation and administration

Knowledge and compliance of oil and gas laws are very important. Mount Royal University offers petroleum land administration certificates in surface rights, mineral rights and land contracts.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen allows recent graduates with undergraduate degrees to begin pursuing the Professional Landman (P.Land) and Professional Surface Landmen (PSL) certifications within after one to two years of work experience, depending on the degree, while those with at least five years of relevant experience can begin the certification process with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Land Administration.


Graduate programs

For academically-inclined graduates, there are several Canadian universities which offer master’s programs in engineering, science and applied science. There are also several PhD programs available.

Master of petroleum engineering programs

Master of petroleum engineering programs are available at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, the University of Regina and Dalhousie University. The University of Calgary also offers a master of engineering degree specifically in petroleum exploration engineering, and energy and environment engineering.

Master of science programs

Master of science programs are offered at the University of Calgary and the University of Alberta. The University of Regina offers a thesis-based master of applied science program while the University of Calgary also offers an M.Sc. in energy and environment engineering.

PhD in petroleum engineering

Doctorate (PhD) programs in petroleum engineering are found at the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary and the University of Regina. Like its M.Eng. and M.Sc. programs, the University of Calgary also offers a PhD in energy and environment engineering.
Everything you need to know about hatching a career in oil and gas
TalentEgg’s Petroleum Career Guide and this editorial feature were produced in partnership with the Petroleum Labour Market Information (PetroLMI) Division of Enform. For more information about starting your career in the oil and gas industry, please visit


Photo credit: Sunset at Petroleum Field by Fábio Pinheiro on Flickr