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Career Development Tracks in Mining Industry

You know you want to work in a drilling industry- but you’re not exactly sure in what capacity. Would you enjoy working in the coal mining industry? Are you qualified enough to eventually become a drilling operations manager? How much money can you expect to make, and what kind of work will you be doing?

We’re here to answer your questions and give you some insight on what kind of career path you can expect to follow by entering the drilling industry. Here’s a quick overview of various career paths you might take within the drilling industries, and how you can expect to advance from position to position.

For those interested in the coal mining industry specifically, high school graduates will begin as miners or laborers, while college graduates may start as geologists. Miners/laborers are usually between 20-45 years old, and earn up to $45,000/year for operating heavy mining machinery. From there, they’ll advance to equipment operator miners, earning up to $66,000/year for safely and efficiently operating mining equipment. The top tier for high school graduates in coal mining is the foreman position, earning up to $89,000/year for supervising miners.
As geologists, college graduates earn around $76,000/year for researching rock layers. College graduates can also get a position as a mechanical engineer, eventually progressing to mine manager, executive operations manager, and mine engineer, in that order. They’ll learn the ins and outs of staffing, overall management of mining projects and operations, and planning and designing future mines along the way.

On the oil and gas drilling side of the industry, high school graduates begin as rig hands, learning the equipment before eventually moving on to positions as drillers and tool pushers. Rig hands earn up to $43,000/year, while tool pushers can make anywhere from $87-107,000/year for supervising daily drilling operations and managing drilling crews.

College graduates in oil and gas drilling, meanwhile, will likely begin as petroleum geologists, earning up to $86,000/year for analyzing rock formations and mineral samples to identify new gas and oil deposits. From there, they’ll advance to drilling operations manager, earning up to $98,000/year for managing daily operations, and then drilling/petroleum engineer, where they’ll earn up to $114,000/year for assessing costs and estimating production capabilities, among other responsibilities.

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