What They Do: Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals for use in manufacturing and utilities.
Work Environment: Many mining and geological engineers work where mining operations are located, such as mineral mines or sand-and-gravel quarries, in remote areas or near cities and towns. Others work in offices or onsite for oil and gas extraction firms or engineering services firms.
How to Become One: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program is required to become a mining or geological engineer.
Salary: The median annual wage for mining and geological engineers is $97,090.
Job Outlook: Employment of mining and geological engineers is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.
Related Careers: Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of mining and geological engineers with similar occupations.
Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals such as coal and metals for use in manufacturing and utilities.
Mining and geological engineers typically do the following:
Geological engineers search for mineral deposits and evaluate possible sites. Once a site is identified, they plan how the metals or minerals will be extracted in efficient and environmentally sound ways.
Mining engineers often specialize in one particular mineral or metal, such as coal or gold. They typically design and develop mines and determine the best way to extract metal or minerals to get the most out of deposits.
Some mining engineers work with geoscientists and metallurgical engineers to find and evaluate ore deposits. Other mining engineers develop new equipment or direct mineral-processing operations to separate minerals from dirt, rock, and other materials.
Mining safety engineers use best practices and their knowledge of mine design to ensure workers' safety and to maintain compliance with state and federal safety regulations. They inspect the walls and roofs of mines, monitor the air quality, and examine mining equipment for possible hazards.
Engineers who hold a master's or a doctoral degree may teach engineering at colleges and universities. For more information, see the profile on postsecondary teachers.
Mining and geological engineers hold about 7,500. The largest employers of mining and geological engineers are as follows:
|Metal ore mining
|Oil and gas extraction
Many work where mining operations are located, such as mineral mines or sand-and-gravel quarries, in remote areas or near cities and towns. Others work in offices or onsite for oil and gas extraction firms or engineering services firms.
Most mining and geological engineers work full time and some work more than 40 hours a week. The remoteness of some mining locations gives rise to variable schedules and weeks during which they work more hours than usual.
Get the education you need: Find schools for Mining and Geological Engineers near you!
A bachelor's degree from an accredited engineering program is required to become a mining or geological engineer, including a mining safety engineer. Requirements for licensure vary by state but most states require applicants to pass two exams.
High school students interested in entering mining or geological engineering programs in college should take courses in mathematics and science.
Relatively few schools offer mining engineering or geological engineering programs. Typical bachelor's degree programs in mining engineering include courses in geology, physics, thermodynamics, mine design and safety, and mathematics. Bachelor's degree programs in geological engineering typically include courses in geology, chemistry, fluid mechanics, physics, and mathematics. Both types of programs also include laboratory and field work, as well as traditional classroom study.
A related degree, such as civil or environmental engineering or geoscience, may be acceptable for some positions as a mining or geological engineer.
Programs in mining and geological engineering are accredited by ABET, whose accreditation is based on a program's faculty, curriculum, facilities, and other factors.
Master's degree programs in mining and geological engineering typically are 2-year programs and include coursework in specialized subjects, such as mineral resource development and mining regulations. Some programs require a written thesis for graduation.
Analytical skills. Mining and geological engineers must take many factors into account when evaluating new mine locations and designing facilities. They must also plan for the restoration of the surrounding environment after operations end.
Decisionmaking skills. These engineers make decisions that influence many critical outcomes—from worker safety to mine production. The ability to anticipate problems and deal with them immediately is crucial.
Logical-thinking skills. In planning mines' operations, mineral processing, and environmental reclamation, these engineers have to put work plans into a coherent, logical sequence.
Math skills. Mining and geological engineers use the principles of calculus, trigonometry, and other advanced topics in math for analysis, design, and troubleshooting in their work.
Problem-solving skills. Mining and geological engineers must explore for potential mines, plan their operations and mineral processing, and design environmental reclamation projects. These are all complex projects requiring an ability to identify and work toward goals, while solving problems along the way.
Writing skills. Mining and geological engineers must prepare reports and instructions for other workers. Therefore, they must be able to write clearly so that others can easily understand their ideas and plans.
Licensure is not required for entry-level positions as a mining or geological engineer. A Professional Engineering (PE) license, which allows for higher levels of leadership and independence, can be acquired later in one's career. Licensed engineers are called professional engineers (PEs). A PE can oversee the work of other engineers, sign off on projects, and provide services directly to the public. State licensure generally requires
The initial FE exam can be taken after one earns a bachelor's degree. Engineers who pass this exam are commonly called engineers in training (EITs) or engineer interns (EIs). After meeting work experience requirements, EITs and EIs can take the second exam, called the Principles and Practice of Engineering.
In several states, engineers must earn continuing education credits to keep their licenses. Most states recognize licenses from other states, provided that licensure requirements in the other states meet or exceed the first state's own requirements.
New mining and geological engineers usually work under the supervision of experienced engineers. In large companies, new engineers also may receive formal classroom or seminar-type training. As engineers gain knowledge and experience, they are assigned more difficult projects and they are given greater independence to develop designs, solve problems, and make decisions.
Engineers may advance to become technical specialists or supervise a staff or team of engineers and technicians. Some eventually become engineering managers or enter other managerial or sales jobs. In sales, an engineering background enables them to discuss a product's technical aspects and to assist in product planning, installation, and use. For more information, see the profiles on architectural and engineering managers and sales engineers.
The median annual wage for mining and geological engineers is $97,090. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $162,720.
The median annual wages for mining and geological engineers in the top industries in which they work are as follows:
|Oil and gas extraction
|Metal ore mining
Most mining and geological engineers work full time and some work more than 40 hours a week. The remoteness of some mining locations gives rise to variable schedules and weeks during which they work more than usual.
Employment of mining and geological engineers is projected to grow 2 percent over the next ten years, slower than the average for all occupations.
Despite limited employment growth, about 500 openings for mining and geological engineers are projected each year, on average, over the decade. Most of those openings are expected to result from the need to replace workers who transfer to different occupations or exit the labor force, such as to retire
Employment growth for mining and geological engineers will depend upon demand for coal, metals, and minerals. These resources are used in many products, from construction materials and cars to cell phones and computers. As companies look for ways to cut costs, they are expected to contract more services with engineering services firms, rather than employ engineers directly.
|Projected Employment, 2031
|Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers
A portion of the information on this page is used by permission of the U.S. Department of Labor.