Studies & Degrees in Mining Engineering
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Mining Engineering Study Programs
For thousands of years, mining in the earth for minerals, fuels, and metals has been a key part of human societies around the world. Extractive processes provide stone for building, metals for tools, and precious materials like gold and diamonds. Today, mining is as important as ever, and a new class of people – mining engineers – have appeared to handle the complex science of this ancient activity.
As a student of mining engineering, you will learn about all aspects of the mining business, from prospecting and site analysis (figuring out where the materials can be found in the earth) to extraction and worker safety. As gold mines, oil wells, and quarries continue to drive economic development all over the globe, you will be well equipped to take part in this exciting and thriving industrial sector.
- Interest in science and mathematics, especially physics and chemistry
- Strong problem-solving and logical thinking skills
- Patience, diligence, and work ethic – willingness to work on complex problems for an extended period of time
- Attention to detail and good organization
Mining-engineering majors take a variety of classes that includes some balance of geological science and engineering techniques. The structure of these programs can vary considerably, and many are designed to teach students how to optimize mining operations in the local area where the program is based. For example, schools in Alaska often offer programs in mining engineering that focus on the unique details of mining in that area. In addition, different programs may focus on different kinds of mining (e.g. mining for coal vs. drilling for oil).
The majority of students in mining engineering obtain at least a Master’s Degree in the field before they seek employment. While undergraduate-level programs do exist, they are uncommon. If you aspire to become a mining engineer, it’s a good idea to get a Bachelor’s degree in engineering (a double major in engineering along with geology, mathematics, or physics is ideal), then apply to Master’s programs in mining engineering. This will provide the specialized knowledge that both graduate schools and employers value in an applicant.
Mining engineering has been found to be among the top-10 most lucrative college majors, along with several other engineering fields. Economies around the world, from the USA to sub-Saharan Africa, depend on having qualified mining engineers to oversee large-scale extraction operations, and so there are plenty of well-paying jobs available. In addition, many mining engineers develop an expertise in locating deposits of precious minerals prior to setting up a mining operation, which is an extremely valuable skill in the mining industry.