The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
A Career in Drilling
These days, many people start planning their future careers while they’re still in college – maybe even high school. However, for those interested in the mining industries, the career progression isn’t always so clear right off the bat. Depending on your education, your goal salary, and your interests, you might take a different path into the mining industries than another person would. In this infographic, we’ll break down various career development tracks in the mining industries so that you can get a glimpse of where your career might take you.
A high school graduate will begin as a miner or laborer, earning around $41K for operating heavy mining machinery, drill blasting holes, and transporting coal (this entry level position is often an hourly rate, but the average salary listed is for a 40 hour work week). Coal miners, who tend to be in the 20-45 age range, may then advance to an equipment operator miner, earning around $60K so safely and efficiently operating mining equipment. Finally, they can earn a promotion to foreman, earning around $85K for supervising miners and the work environment.
College graduates, meanwhile, may begin as geologists or mechanical engineers. Geologists earn around $76K for researching rock layers and densities, while mechanical engineers earn around $81K for designing and evaluating machinery. Next, the college graduate might progress to a mine manager, earning around $100K for managing mining projects and employees. While a college degree isn’t necessary to become a mine manager, only 17% of mine managers are high school graduates. Finally, a mine manager may progress to executive operations manager or mine engineer, both of whom earn around $102K. The executive operations manager leads and manages operations teams, while a mine engineer is responsible for planning and designing mines.
Oil and Gas Drilling
A high school graduate will begin as a rig hand, conducting routine equipment inspection and assisting the driller for around $39K. From there, they’ll advance to becoming a driller, earning $72K for ensuring compliance with regulating bodies and supervising the crew managing the drill. They’ll then advance to tool pusher, supervising daily drilling operations and managing drillers and materials for around $97K.
A college graduate may begin as a petroleum geologist, who studies variations in rock formations and mineral samples to identify new gas and oil deposits while earning around $78K. From there, they’ll advance to a drilling operations manager, keeping an eye on daily drilling for around $89K. Finally, they can be promoted to a drilling/petroleum engineer, assessing costs and estimating production capabilities for around $104K. If they have a degree in geology or other earth sciences, they may even eventually become a CEO in the oil or natural gas industries.
Planning ahead can really make a difference. Knowing what you’ll need to accomplish in order to climb the ladder is key. Your dream career may seem like years away, but by planning your career path and visualizing how you’ll get there, you’ll have a much better chance at landing your ideal position and enjoying a fulfilling job.
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YOUR FUTURE IN DRILLING
CAREER DEVELOPMENT TRACKS IN THE MINING INDUSTRIES
Salary: $92k – $112k
Tasks: Responsible for planning and designing mines, ensuring maximum structural stability.
Executive Operations Manager
Salary: $92k – $112k
Tasks: Ensure optimal resource utilization and exploitation, develop improvement strategies, lead and manage operation teams.
Salary: $90k – $110k
Tasks: Staffing, overall management of mining projects, performance evaluation, promotion of a safe work environment.
Salary: $73k – $89k
Tasks: Designs machines and mechanical installations, evaluates machinery, sets up work control systems.
Salary: $68k – $84k
Tasks: Researches formation dissolution and content of rock layers, studies variation in rock formation and densities.
A college degree is not necessary for a career as a mine manager, but only 17% are high school only graduates.
43% hold a Bachelor’s Degree.
27% hold a Master’s Degree.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE
Salary: $80k – $89k
Tasks: Supervise miners, ensure meeting of quotas, maintain an efficient work environment.
Equipment Operator Miner
Salary: $54k – $66k
Tasks: Safely and efficiently operate mining equipment.
Salary: $37k – $45k
Tasks: Operate heavy machinery, drill blasting holes, transport coal, lay out and build underground mines.
The average age of a coal miner: 20 – 45 years old.
OIL & GAS
Salary: $94k – $114k
Tasks: Assess costs and estimate production capabilities, monitor production rates, develop plans, analyze data to recommend placement of wells.
Drilling Operations Manager
Salary: $80k – $98k
Tasks: Manage daily drilling, production, and engineering operations, manage the planning and execution of drilling projects, plan and develop revisions.
The process of drilling for oil on a modern oil rig is mostly automatic; the driller’s primary function is to supervise the work of the crew managing these operations.
Salary: $70k – $86k
Tasks: Study and examine variations in rock formations and mineral samples to identify new gas and oil deposits, analyze integrity of wells, estimate size and quality of deposits.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE
Salary: $87k – $107k
Tasks: Supervise daily drilling operations and manage drillers and their crews, plans delivery of orders for new materials and tools.
Salary: $65k – $79k
Tasks: Ensure compliance with all regulating bodies such as ATF and OSHA, drill holes and supervise use of dynamite, maintain an accurate drill log.
Salary: $35k – $43k
Tasks: Conduct routine equipment inspection, assist driller during operations, ensure accuracy of fuel inventories.
Geology and other earth science degrees and careers are the starting point for many eventual CEOs in the oil and natural gas industries.
Data: Comes from Indeed.com, and represents national averages based on current job listings. Note that entry-level positions for High School graduates are often paid hourly, and averages listed are based on a 40-hour work week.
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