Mining Engineers


Education and Training Requirements

High School

To meet the standards set by most engineering colleges, high school students should take as much math and science as possible. Minimum course work includes elementary and intermediate algebra, plane geometry, trigonometry, chemistry, and physics. Courses in solid geometry, advanced algebra, and basic computer functions are highly recommended. In addition, many engineering colleges require three years of English (preferably emphasizing composition and public speaking) and social science (especially economics and history). Course work in foreign languages also is helpful, because many engineers work overseas.

Postsecondary Training

A bachelor's degree in engineering, preferably with a major in mining engineering, from an accredited engineering program is the minimum requirement for beginning mining engineering jobs. The organization that accredits engineering programs in the United States and in 32 other countries is ABET (https://www.abet.org). ABET-accredited mining engineering programs assure students that their education will prepare them for professional practice and graduate study.

In a typical undergraduate engineering program, students spend the first two years studying basic sciences, such as mathematics, physics, and chemistry, as well as introductory engineering. Students must also study such subjects as economics, foreign languages, history, management, and writing. These courses equip students with skills they will need in their future work as engineers. The remaining years of college are devoted mostly to engineering courses, usually with a concentration in mining engineering. Engineering programs can last from four to six years. Those that require five to six years to complete may award a master's degree or provide a cooperative engineering education program. Cooperative programs allow students to combine classroom education and practical work experience with a participating mining company or engineering firm.

Other Education or Training

After completing their formal studies and landing a job, many mining engineers continue their education. They take courses, attend workshops, and read professional journals in order to keep up with developments in their field. Continuing education also enables them to acquire expertise in new technical areas. The Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society and the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration offer short courses, workshops, and tutorials in a variety of formats. The National Mining Association offers educational opportunities at its MINExpo INTERNATIONAL conference. Several general engineering associations also offer continuing education opportunities. The American Society for Engineering Education offers continuing education opportunities for engineers via its annual conference and other events. The National Society of Professional Engineers provides webinars for student members of the society. Past webinars included "Career Success in Engineering: A Guide for Students and New Professionals," "Ethics and Professionalism for Students and Young Engineers," "How to Get Your First Job," and "Engineering Your Career with a High Quality Social Network Web Seminar." The Society of Women Engineers offers conference sessions, webinars, and other education resources on topics such as leadership, career development, and special issues for women in engineering. Contact these organizations for more information.

Certification, Licensing, and Special Requirements

Certification or Licensing

Regardless of their educational credentials, mining engineers normally must obtain professional certification in the states in which they work. Professional registration is mandatory in all 50 states and the District of Columbia for mining engineers whose work may affect life, health, or property or who offer their services to the public. Registration generally requires a degree from an ABET-accredited engineering program, four years of relevant work experience, and passing a state examination. Licensed engineers are known as PEs, or professional engineers.

Experience, Skills, and Personality Traits

Take as many math and science classes as possible and participate in internships to gain experience in the field.

Certain characteristics help qualify a person for a career in mining engineering. These include scientific and technical expertise, the judgment to adapt knowledge to practical purposes, the imagination and analytical skill to solve problems, and the capacity to predict the performance and cost of new processes or devices. Mining engineers must also be able to communicate effectively, work both independently and as part of a team, and supervise other workers.