Study Mining Engineering: Degrees at a Glance
Bachelor's and associate degree programs in mining engineering teach you how to ensure that mines operate efficiently and safely. Mining engineers are concerned with all aspects of how a mine functions, from excavation and development of a mine to mineral or resource processing. Bachelor's degree programs prepare you to become a licensed mining engineer, while associate degree programs prepare you to work as a technician. If you are seeking a bachelor's degree program, you may consider attending a program that is accredited by ABET, a nonprofit organization that accredits educational programs in engineering, computing, applied science and engineering technology.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicted that employment opportunities for mining and geological engineers would increase by 10% nationally (about as fast as average) from 2010-2020. The agency stated that its prediction was based on the belief that an increased need for oil and other resources would create jobs in the field. The BLS also predicted that job opportunities across the country for geological and petroleum technicians would grow by 15% during the 2010-2020 decade.
|Who is this degree for?||People seeking entry-level technician positions||Individuals who want to pursue a career in mining engineering|
|Common Career Paths (with approximate median annual salary)|| - Mining engineering technician (salary unavailable)|
- Geological and petroleum technician ($50,000)*
|- Mining and geological engineer ($84,000)*|
- Engineering manager** ($122,000)*
|Time to Completion||2 years, full-time||4 years, full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements||Approximately 60 credits of cousework||- Roughly 120 credits of coursework |
- Senior design project or technical report
|Prerequisites||High school diploma or equivalent|| - High school diploma or equivalent|
- SAT or ACT scores
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).
Note: **Position typically requires experience in addition to a degree.
Associate Degree Programs
Associate degree programs are offered in mining technology and related majors. These 2-year programs focus on the practical aspects of mining engineering, but also usually include general education requirements. Some programs may prepare you for management positions by incorporating coursework in supervision and management.
Pros and Cons
- Curricula are based on practical rather than conceptual skills
- Programs may include coursework in supervising and safety
- Earned credits may transfer to a 4-year school
- Associate degree programs are not accredited by ABET
- These programs do not prepare you for a career as an engineer
- Programs may not include internship opportunities
Coursework and Requirements
Associate degree programs in mining engineering teach you the fundamentals of the field, such as drafting and surveying. They also usually include math and science coursework in subjects like technical math and geology. Core courses may include:
- Mining hydraulics
- Technical drafting
- Supervision principles
- Mine electricity
Due to the significant hands-on learning required to understand the operations in the field, online programs are not available at this time. Attending an in-person program allows you to obtain the hands-on training associate degree programs provide and interact with professors and other students during your studies.
How to Stand Out with this Degree
Mining technicians may assist engineers or other employees in creating mines using computer-aided design (CAD) software programs. Although courses in CAD drafting are part of many associate degree program curriculums, completing advanced courses or an internship that uses CAD programs can provide you with extensive knowledge of the subject. This knowledge can help you stand out among your competitors for a job.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs prepare you to become a mining engineer. These programs teach you about both the practical and conceptual aspects of mining engineering. During your studies, you learn how to apply math, science and engineering principles to solve problems related to mining safety, construction and excavation. In addition to lecture-based learning, you also learn through extensive hands-on training in the form of labs and experiences at onsite mining facilities.
Pros and Cons
- Bachelor's degree programs prepare you to work as an engineer
- Schools may have on-site mines to provide you with hands-on experience
- Internship opportunities are available in most programs
- Program curriculum may offer management and safety courses
- Few ABET-accredited programs
- Programs aren't located in major metropolitan areas
- Programs usually require completion of advanced math and science coursework
- Management positions may still require experience working in the field
Coursework and Requirements
Bachelor's degree programs include coursework in advanced science and math, including calculus, physics and differential equations. During your first two years of study, you complete foundational engineering courses like statics and dynamics. Courses you may take include:
- Surface mine design
- Coal mining methods and design
- Structural geology
- Mine system analysis
- Mineral processing
Some programs require that you complete a capstone course prior to graduation. For this requirement, you may need to create a senior design project or write a technical report.
The majority of ABET-accredited programs are only available to attend in-person because of the extensive hands-on components of their curriculum. An on-campus program allows you to receive this hands-on experience and interact with other aspiring engineers.
How to Stand Out with This Degree
In addition to gaining practical experience through a co-op or internship, you may consider becoming professionally licensed. The path to becoming licensed typically involves graduating from an ABET-accredited program, passing two exams and completing four years of work experience.
You may also want to gain experience with computer programs used in the mining industry, such as AutoCAD and Gemcom. Being able to use these programs may impress potential employers.