Gas Distribution Engineer Careers: Salary & Job Description

About this article
The median annual salary for gas distribution engineers is between about $83,000 and $97,000. Read on to learn about the career outlook for this field and to see job postings from real employers.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of Working as a Gas Distribution Engineer?

You can get a job as a gas distribution engineer after earning a degree in a variety of engineering fields, particularly chemical, civil, and mechanical, which offers you some flexibility during your education. Read the pros and cons of this career to determine if it's right for you.

Pros of Becoming a Gas Distribution Engineer
Good pay (median annual salary ranges from about $83,000 to $97,000)*
A bachelor's degree can be sufficient for most positions*
Work to ensure the safety of workers and projects***
Variety of job tasks (review and create designs, manage projects, estimate costs, etc.)**

Cons of Becoming a Gas Distribution Engineer
Years of experience are commonly required**
May work under tight deadlines*
Job can involve stress and criticism***
Long hours could be required (up to 60 hours per week for mechanical engineers)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **Job Postings, ***U.S. Department of Labor's O*Net Online

Essential Career Info

Gas distribution engineers are generally responsible for overseeing the technical operations of gas distribution facilities and projects. This could include enforcing safety protocols, providing technical support, designing new engineering technology or making sure operations are running efficiently. You may also be in charge of gathering data and performing systems analyses, planning new distribution systems, estimating project costs and developing budgets. Other daily job duties could include supervising employees, creating distribution models, purchasing materials for new jobs, collaborating with other engineers and project managers, maintaining databases and making sure governmental standards are met.

Salary and Job Outlook

The BLS does not report salaries for gas distribution engineers but it does keep records for civil, chemical, and mechanical engineers. According to the BLS, civil engineers earned a median annual salary of about $82,000 as of May 2014, while mechanical engineers made a median annual salary of about $83,000 and chemical engineers $97,000. Oil and gas extraction were the top highest-paying industries for all three types of engineers in 2014. According to the BLS, mechanical engineers are expected to experience an employment growth rate of about 5% between 2012 and 2022, while the job growth rate for civil engineers is expected to increase by 8% and chemical engineers by 2% during the same time.

Requirements

Education

The minimum educational requirement for most gas distribution engineering positions is a bachelor's degree in civil, mechanical or electrical engineering. You could pursue a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or a Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng) in these fields. Courses you might take can include subjects like mechanics of materials, elasticity, structural dynamics, continuum mechanics and intelligent systems. Other areas of study could include experimental systems, control systems, linear engineering, soil mechanics and wave propagation.

In some cases, engineering bachelor's degree programs may be offered as 5-year options, which combine undergraduate and graduate study and lead to a master's degree. Master's degree programs may also be available as standalone 2-year options, and are available in both civil and mechanical engineering.

Skills

Engineers must be comfortable working with complex mathematics and scientific theory. They should be good problem solvers and analytical thinkers. Additionally, because engineering often requires lots of interdisciplinary collaboration, employers often value good communication skills and a team-oriented mindset.

Job Postings

Employers sometimes accept applicants from multiple engineering disciplines while noting that they prefer those with a background in civil or mechanical engineering. Typically, experience in the field of gas distribution is commonly preferred. The following job postings were available in May 2012:

  • A national engineering, science and operations company with multiple locations throughout the country posted an advertisement for a natural gas engineering project manager to work in Massachusetts. The applicant was expected to have at least a bachelor's degree in either mechanical or civil engineering, but a master's degree was preferred. Four years of experience, knowledge of federal, state and local gas pipeline regulations, pipeline design knowledge and knowledge of the gas distribution business were all requirements.
  • A gas corporation in Nevada advertised for a distribution engineer to estimate costs, design distribution facilities, review projects and monitor code compliance. At least five years of experience and a bachelor's degree in either civil or mechanical engineering was required.
  • An energy company in Maryland was looking for a distribution planning senior engineer serving over half a million natural gas customers. The applicant needed to have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering and about five years of experience in the field.

How to Stand Out

One way to stand out is to pursue a graduate degree in civil or mechanical engineering, which could be preferred by some employers. A master's degree program takes 2-3 years to finish and culminates in a thesis or comprehensive exam.

If you want to work in a role that would involve offering your services to the public, you will need to be licensed in all 50 states. By allowing you to have a wider range of responsibilities, licensure could open up more job opportunities to you. You might also consider earning certification through an organization like the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. This could help you demonstrate your competency in the field to future employers.

Alternative Careers

Civil Engineering Technician

If you're interested in working in the field of engineering but you don't want to complete a bachelor's degree, you might consider working as a civil engineering technician. In this position, you would help assist civil engineers in testing, designing and developing various projects. In 2011, the BLS reported that civil engineering technicians earned a median annual salary of about $47,000, and from 2010-2020, they were expected to see a job growth of about 12%. An associate degree in civil engineering technology is typically required for such a position.

Architect

If you're interested in design but you don't want to work in gas distribution or even in engineering, you may consider becoming an architect. These professionals create plans for new buildings and oversee their construction. You need at least a bachelor's degree to work as an architect, and architectural bachelor's degrees typically take about five years to complete. From 2010-2020, the BLS predicted that architects would see a faster-than-average job growth of 24%. In 2010, these professionals earned a median annual salary of about $73,000, according to the BLS.

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