Mining engineers work to make mines safe.
Mining engineers are involved with prospecting for and extracting minerals, metals and coal for energy and manufacturing industries. They may design mines, supervise their construction, and work with other engineers to develop efficient means of transporting the raw mined materials to the processing area. Mining engineers emphasize safety for both miners and the environment. The entry level requirement for a career as a mining engineer is a bachelor’s degree, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Candidates who wish to pursue a career in engineering must have a solid high school background in math and science. High school students should elect higher mathematics courses such as geometry, trigonometry and calculus in addition to basic math and algebra. They should additionally take courses in physics, chemistry and Earth sciences, such as geology.
Most entry level mining engineering jobs require candidates to hold at least a bachelor’s degree from a program that’s accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. Coursework for a mining engineer undergraduate degree may include classroom studies, laboratory work and field experience. Courses may include calculus, chemistry, physics, design, statistics, fluid mechanics, mechanics of minerals, mine safety, mine design, electrical circuits and structural geology. Mining engineer candidates may also study explosives, ventilation and methods of extraction as minor courses of study.
Some mining engineer positions require candidates to hold advanced degrees at the master’s or doctorate level. The Department of Mining Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines, for example, offers an Engineer of Mines master’s degree, a Mining and Earth Systems Engineering master’s degree, and a Mining and Earth Systems Engineering Ph.D. degree. Candidates for graduate degrees may enter either a thesis or non-thesis program. Fields of study may include geomechanics, computerized mine design, bulk material handling, rock fragmentation, underground excavation and mineral processing. A mining engineering master’s degree typically requires at least 30 hours of post-graduate studies, while the Ph.D. program generally requires at least 72 hours of post-graduate studies.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects new employment opportunities for engineers in all disciplines to grow by approximately 11 percent between 2008 and 2018. Some engineering specialties, including mining engineering, should experience greater demand with new job growth projected at around 15 percent. Mining engineers who are willing to travel overseas and stay for extended periods may have the greatest employment opportunities.