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Mining And Geological Engineers (Including Mining Safety Engineers) Career

Career Description

Mining and Geological Engineers determine the location and plan the extraction of coal, metallic ores, nonmetallic minerals, and building materials, such as stone and gravel. Work involves conducting preliminary surveys of deposits or undeveloped mines and planning their development; examining deposits or mines to determine whether they can be worked at a profit; making geological and topographical surveys; evolving methods of mining best suited to character, type, and size of deposits; and supervising mining operations.

Common Work Tasks

  • Find, extract, and prepare coal, metals, and minerals for use by manufacturing industries and utilities
  • Design open-pit and underground mines, supervise the construction of mine shafts and tunnels in underground operations, and devise methods for transporting minerals to processing plants
  • Responsible for the safe, economical, and environmentally sound operation of mines
  • Work with geologists and metallurgical engineers to locate and appraise new ore deposits
  • Develop new mining equipment or direct mineral-processing operations that separate minerals from the dirt, rock, and other materials with which they are mixed
  • Work to solve problems related to land reclamation and water and air pollution
  • Use their knowledge of mine design and practices to ensure the safety of workers and to comply with State and Federal safety regulations
  • Inspect walls and roof surfaces, monitor air quality, and examine mining equipment for compliance with safety practices
  • Schedule machine overhauls and the servicing of electrical, heating, ventilation, refrigeration, water, and sewage systems

Other Job Titles

Mining and Geological Engineers are also known by other titles, including:

  • Materials Engineers
  • Industrial Engineers
  • Metallurgical Engineers
  • Mining Safety Engineers

Education, Training, and Experience

Education and Training
A bachelor’s degree in engineering is required for almost all entry-level engineering jobs. College graduates with a degree in a natural science or mathematics occasionally may qualify for some engineering jobs, especially in specialties in high demand.

Most engineering programs involve a concentration of study in an engineering specialty, along with courses in both mathematics and the physical and life sciences. Many programs also include courses in general engineering. A design course, sometimes accompanied by a computer or laboratory class or both, is part of the curriculum of most programs. General courses not directly related to engineering, such as those in the social sciences or humanities, are also often required.

Graduate training is essential for engineering faculty positions and many research and development programs, but is not required for the majority of entry-level engineering jobs. Many experienced engineers obtain graduate degrees in engineering or business administration to learn new technology and broaden their education. Many high-level executives in government and industry began their careers as engineers.

Certification and Licensure
All 50 States and the District of Columbia require licensure for engineers who offer their services directly to the public. Engineers who are licensed are called professional engineers (PE). This licensure generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, 4 years of relevant work experience, and successful completion of a State examination. Recent graduates can start the licensing process by taking the examination in two stages. The initial Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination can be taken upon graduation. Engineers who pass this examination commonly are called engineers in training (EIT) or engineer interns (EI). After acquiring suitable work experience, EITs can take the second examination, the Principles and Practice of Engineering exam. Several States have imposed mandatory continuing education requirements for re-licensure. Most States recognize licensure from other States, provided that the manner in which the initial license was obtained meets or exceeds their own licensure requirements. Many mining and geological, mining and geological, mining and geological, and mining and geological engineers are licensed PEs. Independent of licensure, various certification programs are offered by professional organizations to demonstrate competency in specific fields of engineering.

  Engineers should be creative, inquisitive, analytical, and detail oriented. They should be able to work as part of a team and to communicate well, both orally and in writing. Communication abilities are becoming increasingly important as engineers frequently interact with specialists in a wide range of fields outside engineering.


The median annual salary for a mining and geological engineer is $74,000. The top 10 percent earn more than $127,000, and the lowest 10 percent earn less than $45,000. Median earnings in the industries employing the largest number of mining and geological engineers are:

  • Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services - $70,240
  • Metal Ore Mining - $68,510
  • Coal Mining - $71,070
  • Nonmetallic Mineral Mining and Quarrying  - $69,810
  • Support Activities for Mining  - $63,980

Job Outlook

  • 2006-2016 Employment growth:  10%
  • Number of new jobs created 2006-2016: 700
  • Employment 2006 : 7,100
  • Employment 2016:  7,800
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