Surface Mining Careers

Strip mining operation

Surface mining is the extraction of minerals, metals, oil, gas, and other elements from the earth’s surface. Strip mining, quarrying, and open-pit mining are three other terms used for surface mining. Surface mining requires different tasks from finding the minerals to extraction, managing the paper flow and financial responsibilities, operating heavy equipment to explosion expertise.


Locating the mineral, oil, gas, gems, or other element is the job of the geologists and geological and petroleum engineers. The development of the mine, and organization of the process of extraction is the job of the engineering technicians and drafters, who will continue to supervise the mining operation. Environmental engineers will work with the drafters and engineering technicians to ensure all laws and regulations are met. Other professionals involved in surface mining are the industrial engineers and mechanical engineers. The industrial engineers oversee employees, scheduling and developing operations to streamline the mining tasks. While the mechanical engineer oversees and deals with equipment constructed and operated for ventilation and cooling for the employees.

Machine Operations

Extractions and the operations of heavy machinery to complete this task are another career opportunity in the surface mining industry. Oil field mining requires rotary drill operators who supervise, rotary-rig engine operators control the drill equipment, the derrick operators guide the pipes in and out of the drilled holes and work from a high platform. Gas processing requires gas treaters, gas pump operators, gas compressor operators, each responsible for a different aspect to gas extraction. Mineral and coal miners include continuous-mining machine operator monitors the conveyor that continuously extracts minerals. A longwall mining machine operator controls the buckets and hydraulic jacks, the buckets scoop out the ore and the hydraulic jacks move forward to support the roof of the mine. The various other careers offered include safety inspectors, loading machine operators, tractor and truck operators, rock splitters, dredge operators, and operators for cranes and other heavy equipment.

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Office Careers

Managers, operating officers, secretaries, accounting clerks, administrative assistants, administrators, the president and vice president, as well as other office titles, can be found in any surface mining company. General clerks may tackle the filing, message and mail deliveries. Surface mining companies depending on the size could employ several administrative assistants, secretaries, filing clerks, accountants and bookkeepers to handle the mundane tasks of operations. Billing and ordering is an important part of operating a surface mining company as is the issuance of payroll.


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of employees in 2008 were employed in the mining industry. Surface mining companies seek employees with at least a high school diploma and knowledge of operating equipment. All employees must pass a drug test, be in good physical condition, willing to attend training for equipment, and willing to work in adverse conditions. Professionals are required to have at the least a bachelor’s degree in the field applied for. Safety training is a requirement for all employees with a refresher course yearly.