How do I Become a Mining Engineer?

Meghan Perry

In order to become a mining engineer, one must generally earn a degree from a postsecondary institution. In addition to education, working or interning in a mine is beneficial. Some states and companies require certification, as well. Researching the job or shadowing a mining engineer may help to ensure that an individual truly wishes to follow this line of work.

Tunnels in a mine.
Tunnels in a mine.

A strong aptitude in science, math, and technology is helpful for those who wish to become a mining engineer. The job itself uses science and technology in order to extract and process minerals. The mining engineer may also oversee the building of mines and supervise tunnel construction. Monitoring the mines for safety, as well as tracking the environmental impact of the mining, is another important aspect of the job.

Mining engineers plan out how resources should be extracted to minimize the chance of a cave in.
Mining engineers plan out how resources should be extracted to minimize the chance of a cave in.

While a postsecondary degree is important in order to become a mining engineer, there are a variety of options for the type of bachelor's degree one could earn. Some institutions offer specific mining engineering degrees, but there are other options for students at schools that do not offer that degree. These may include agricultural engineering, petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, geochemistry, earth science, or geology.

Courses available to train for a career in mining engineering include general engineering courses, mine management, material handling, mining safety, methods and equipment, environmental reclamation, and metallurgy. Computer, economics, and mathematics courses may also be helpful to those who wish to become a mining engineer. The most important science courses relevant to this career include chemistry and physics.

In addition to education, someone working toward a mining engineering degree may wish to attain a part-time job in a mine. This will help the person to determine whether the career path is one he or she wishes to pursue. Internships are another way to get experience in a mine. Companies will sometimes hire interns as full-time employees once their education is completed. Another way to learn about the field of mining is to shadow, or observe, a mining engineer at work, which can offer useful experience in learning how specific problems are solved.

When working in the public sector, states may require certification before an individual can become a mining engineer. This may require additional study of specific aspects of mining. Since technology is constantly changing, continuing education in the field is also very common. For mining engineers who wish to teach others or conduct research, a master or doctorate degree is often required.

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Discussion Comments

ceilingcat

@KaBoom - You bring up an interesting point about geography and mines. Obviously certain conditions have to be present to make mining desirable.

It seems like if you want to be a mining engineer you would probably have to be willing to relocate to a part of the country where mines are. After all, it's not like the mines can come to you!

KaBoom

@indemnifyme - I tend to agree with you. No one wants a mine to collapse, after all!

Until I read this article though, I had no clue mining engineer was an actual job. I suppose in certain areas of the country people must be more aware. I know there are a lot of mines in West Virginia, but where I live I don't know of any!

indemnifyme

I think higher education and certification should be required to become a mining engineer. When you design or run a mine, you literally have the safety of dozens of people in your hands.

I can think over several instances of mines collapsing over the last few years. In each instance, people were hurt and killed.

Also, a mine collapse isn't desirable from a business standpoint either. If a mine collapses, the resulting chaos takes time away from the work that produces revenue.

I think it's better for all involved if mining engineers have as much education as possible.

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