Mining and Mineral Engineering

The field of mining and mineral engineering includes searching for deposits of natural resources and extracting them efficiently while minimizing risks. Learn more about what mining engineers do, how to become one and what your career prospects are.

Is Mining and Mineral Engineering for Me?

Description

Mining engineers design mining operations and supervise the construction of mining sites. These engineers often specialize in mining for a specific type of resource, such as oil or coal. Knowledge of mining laws and environmentally responsible methods of extraction are necessary for mining and mineral engineers. You usually spend about half of your time on-site and half of your time working in an office.

Employment Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, mining and geological engineers can expect a growth rate of 12% in employment from 2012-2022 (www.bls.gov). This rate is roughly equal to the national average prediction for all jobs during that 10-year period. Mining engineers made a median annual income of $86,870 in 2013. You can advance to positions such as operations manager and agency director with enough education and experience.

How Can I Work in Mining and Mineral Engineering?

Education

You need a minimum of a bachelor's degree to work as a mining and mineral engineer. When selecting a degree program, look for colleges and universities that are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET). Although you can still earn a degree from a school without the ABET credentials, you might not be able to obtain an engineering license if you need one. It is a good idea to explore your desired area of work before enrolling in an engineering degree program. Certifications are also not required, but can be used to improve your employment opportunities.

A bachelor's degree in mining engineering gives you skills to assess mineral extraction sites, develop efficient production techniques and understand the economics of the mining industry. Course options may include mining methods, mining safety, economics of minerals and environmental management. Some undergraduate programs may offer specialization options in mining or resource exploration.

If you decide to pursue a graduate degree in mining and mineral engineering, a master's degree in mining engineering might be a good fit. Graduate programs tend to have more specialization options than bachelor's degree programs do. You can concentrate in areas such as environmental impacts of mining, economics of minerals and underground construction, just to name a few of the possibilities. You usually can take courses in natural hazards or advanced groundwater engineering in a master's program.

Skills

Those who work in mining and mining engineering need good communication skills. It's important that workers in this field have a strong knowledge of mathematics and economics as well.

Licensure

State requirements for licensure of mining engineers vary, but typically apply when these engineers may be providing services to the public. The professional engineer (PE) credential typically requires a combination of education, work experience, and a series of exams.

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