CAREER DEVELOPMENT / NOV. 20, 2014
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How to Become a Mining Engineer in the US

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Mining engineering is an engineering discipline that focuses on the development and extraction of minerals from their ores. Mining engineers use their in-depth knowledge of the geological properties of various minerals to design safe and cost-effective extraction methods. Excellent practical and technical skills and a degree in engineering are some of the tools you need to break into this profession.

What Do Mining Engineers Do?

The primary duties of mining engineers are:

  • Conducting feasibility studies on mining projects
  • Crafting feasibility reports for project managers
  • Evaluating an open-pit or underground mines to determine the best way to extract the minerals
  • Supervising workers involves in the construction of mine shafts and tunnels
  • Designing extraction systems
  • Developing ways to reclaim mine sites
  • Ensuring all mining operations adhere to relevant occupational safety regulations

Work Environment

Mining engineers work fulltime, 9am to 5pm, Monday through Friday. They usually work at mining operations, many of which are in remote areas. This gives rise to the prospect of spending time away from your family.

Mining operations can be dangerous if executed without intricate planning. As such, mining engineers must wear safety gear while at work to avoid work-related injuries.

Salary

The following table highlights the annual salaries for mining engineers in various industries:

Industry

Annual Wage

Support activities for mining

$128,290

Oil and gas extraction

$123,510

Coal mining

$87,070

Metal ore mining

$84,320

Architectural and engineering services

$84,250

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Entry Requirements

To become a mining engineer, you need to earn a bachelor’s degree in mining engineering. The program, which must be accredited by the Accreditation Board of Engineering and Technology, covers topics such as:

  • Physics
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Mine design and safety
  • Thermodynamics

Some of the institutions offering this credential include:

It is also possible to enter the profession through a degree in civil engineering, mineral surveying or geology.

Although a license is not required for mining engineers in the private sector, those who work on public projects must have one. To earn the license and work as an engineering intern, you must pass a two-part examination administered by the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying.

Important Qualities

Besides the education, what else do you need to be a competent mining engineer?

  • Problem-solving and analytical skills
  • Project management skills
  • Computer proficiency
  • The ability to pay close attention to details
  • Teamwork skills
  • Report writing skills
  • Math skills
  • Logical thinking skills
  • Physical stamina

Career Development

As a beginning mining engineer, you will work under the supervision of experienced engineers. You may also be required to undertake on-the-job training program. After working for at least four years, you should obtain the Professional Engineer license from your state’s engineering board.

To enhance your chances of moving into positions of more responsibility you can:

  • Earn a relevant certification, such as the Association for Facilities Engineering’s Certified Plant Engineer
  • Earn a master’s degree in mining and geological engineering or project management

Job Opportunities

Miming engineers can be hired by:

  • Oil and gas companies
  • Engineering firms
  • Mining plants
  • Mining consultancies

As an experienced and licensed engineer with a master’s degree, you can be hired as a technical engineer, project manager or engineering manager. If you wish to become self-employed, you can establish your own mining consulting firm.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of mining engineers will grow by 12 percent – greater than the 9 percent average growth for all engineering jobs—within the next 8 years.

So if you are interested in becoming an engineer, and have a passion for geology, then this could be the perfect career for you.

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