Summary

mining and geological engineers image
Mining engineers and geological engineers ensure that mines are operated in safe and environmentally sound ways.
Quick Facts: Mining and Geological Engineers
2016 Median Pay $93,720 per year
$45.06 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 7,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 7% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 500

What Mining and Geological Engineers Do

Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals such as coal and metals 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 a Mining or Geological Engineer

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program is required to become a mining or geological engineer.

Pay

The median annual wage for mining and geological engineers was $93,720 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of mining and geological engineers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Employment growth for mining and geological engineers will be driven by demand for mining operations. In addition, as companies look for ways to cut costs, they are expected to contract more services with engineering services firms, rather than employ engineers directly.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for mining and geological engineers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of mining and geological engineers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about mining and geological engineers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Mining and Geological Engineers Do About this section

Mining and geological engineers
Mining and geological engineers prepare technical reports for miners, engineers, and managers.

Mining and geological engineers design mines to safely and efficiently remove minerals such as coal and metals for use in manufacturing and utilities.

Duties

Mining and geological engineers typically do the following:

  • Design open-pit and underground mines
  • Supervise the construction of mine shafts and tunnels
  • Devise methods for transporting minerals to processing plants
  • Prepare technical reports for miners, engineers, and managers
  • Monitor mine production to assess the effectiveness of operations
  • Provide solutions to problems related to land reclamation, water and air pollution, and sustainability
  • Ensure that mines are operated in safe and environmentally sound ways

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.

Work Environment About this section

Mining and geological engineers
Mining and geological engineers must visit the worksite to keep close watch on the progression of their designs.

Mining and geological engineers held about 7,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of mining and geological engineers were as follows:

Engineering services 26%
Metal ore mining 12
Oil and gas extraction 12
Coal mining 9
Government 8

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.

Work Schedules

Most mining and geological engineers work full time, and about 2 in 5 worked more than 40 hours a week in 2016. The remoteness of some mining locations gives rise to variable schedules and weeks during which they work more hours than usual.

How to Become a Mining or Geological Engineer About this section

Mining and geological engineers
A bachelor’s degree from an accredited engineering program is required to become a mining or geological engineer.

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.

Education

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.

Important Qualities

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.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

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

  • A degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program
  • A passing score on the Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) exam
  • Relevant work experience, typically at least 4 years
  • A passing score on the Professional Engineering (PE) exam

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.

Advancement

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.

Pay About this section

Mining and Geological Engineers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

$93,720

Engineers

$91,010

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for mining and geological engineers was $93,720 in May 2016. 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 $55,490, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $160,510.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for mining and geological engineers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Oil and gas extraction $126,020
Government 91,780
Metal ore mining 91,660
Coal mining 85,410
Engineering services 85,010

Most mining and geological engineers work full time, and more than 2 in 5 worked more than 40 hours a week in 2016. The remoteness of some mining locations gives rise to variable schedules and weeks during which they work more than usual.

Job Outlook About this section

Mining and Geological Engineers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Engineers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

7%

 

Employment of mining and geological engineers is projected to grow 7 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

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. More mining and geological engineers are expected to be employed by engineering services firms, which provide specialized mine exploration, design, and production services. As companies look for ways to cut costs, they are expected to contract more services with engineering services firms, rather than employ engineers directly.

Employment projections data for mining and geological engineers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Mining and geological engineers, including mining safety engineers

17-2151 7,300 7,900 7 500 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of mining and geological engineers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Architectural and engineering managers

Architectural and Engineering Managers

Architectural and engineering managers plan, direct, and coordinate activities in architectural and engineering companies.

Bachelor's degree $134,730
Civil engineers

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers conceive, design, build, supervise, operate, construct, and maintain infrastructure projects and systems in the public and private sector, including roads, buildings, airports, tunnels, dams, bridges, and systems for water supply and sewage treatment.

Bachelor's degree $83,540
Environmental scientists and specialists

Environmental Scientists and Specialists

Environmental scientists and specialists use their knowledge of the natural sciences to protect the environment and human health. They may clean up polluted areas, advise policymakers, or work with industry to reduce waste.

Bachelor's degree $68,910
Geological and petroleum technicians

Geological and Petroleum Technicians

Geological and petroleum technicians provide support to scientists and engineers in exploring and extracting natural resources, such as minerals, oil, and natural gas.

Associate's degree $56,470
Geoscientists

Geoscientists

Geoscientists study the physical aspects of the Earth, such as its composition, structure, and processes, to learn about its past, present, and future.

Bachelor's degree $89,780
Hydrologists

Hydrologists

Hydrologists study how water moves across and through the Earth’s crust. They use their expertise to solve problems in the areas of water quality or availability.

Bachelor's degree $80,480
Mechanical engineers

Mechanical Engineers

Mechanical engineers design, develop, build, and test mechanical and thermal sensors and devices, including tools, engines, and machines.

Bachelor's degree $84,190
Petroleum engineers

Petroleum Engineers

Petroleum engineers design and develop methods for extracting oil and gas from deposits below the Earth’s surface. Petroleum engineers also find new ways to extract oil and gas from older wells.

Bachelor's degree $128,230
Sales engineers

Sales Engineers

Sales engineers sell complex scientific and technological products or services to businesses. They must have extensive knowledge of the products’ parts and functions and must understand the scientific processes that make these products work.

Bachelor's degree $100,000
Health and safety engineers

Health and Safety Engineers

Health and safety engineers develop procedures and design systems to protect people from illness and injury and property from damage. They combine knowledge of engineering and of health and safety to make sure that chemicals, machinery, software, furniture, and other products will not cause harm to people or damage to property.

Bachelor's degree $86,720

Contacts for More Information About this section

For more information about mining and geological engineers, visit

Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration

For information about general engineering education and career resources, visit

American Society for Engineering Education

Technology Student Association

For more information about licensure as a mining or geological engineer, visit

National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying

National Society of Professional Engineers

For information about accredited engineering programs, visit

ABET

O*NET

Mining and Geological Engineers, Including Mining Safety Engineers

Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Mining and Geological Engineers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/mining-and-geological-engineers.htm (visited October 31, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

The What They Do tab describes the typical duties and responsibilities of workers in the occupation, including what tools and equipment they use and how closely they are supervised. This tab also covers different types of occupational specialties.

Work Environment

The Work Environment tab includes the number of jobs held in the occupation and describes the workplace, the level of physical activity expected, and typical hours worked. It may also discuss the major industries that employed the occupation. This tab may also describe opportunities for part-time work, the amount and type of travel required, any safety equipment that is used, and the risk of injury that workers may face.

How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

The Pay tab describes typical earnings and how workers in the occupation are compensated—annual salaries, hourly wages, commissions, tips, or bonuses. Within every occupation, earnings vary by experience, responsibility, performance, tenure, and geographic area. For most profiles, this tab has a table with wages in the major industries employing the occupation. It does not include pay for self-employed workers, agriculture workers, or workers in private households because these data are not collected by the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) survey, the source of BLS wage data in the OOH.

State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.