A mining engineer needs to:
- be able to work as part of a team
- enjoy technical and engineering work
- be able to identify, analyse and solve problems
- be able to communicate orally, in writing and using graphs
- be able to adhere and contribute to strict safety requirements
Mining engineers may work in offices, laboratories or on mine sites. Depending on the type of mine, those working on-site may work outside in most weather conditions, or underground in cramped, enclosed spaces.
Mining engineers work in mines all over Western Australia, from the mineral sands mines in Bunbury and the South West, coal mining in Collie, gold mining in Boddington and the Goldfields, to iron ore mining in the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. Often they must be prepared to live on site away from home or work on a fly-in, fly-out basis, which involves working on site for a period of time and then returning home for a break. Many mine engineers work for large, global companies and may be required to travel overseas for work.
Graduate mining engineers can expect to earn between $70,000 and $90,000* per year, depending on the organisation they work for. With experience this can increase to between $125,000 and $165,000*.
* Hays Salary Survey, 2009
Mining engineers use a variety of tools and equipment, including computers, surveying equipment and two-way radios. Mining engineers who are located on a mine site will also have to wear safety equipment, including protective eye-wear, hard hats, gloves and hearing protection. They will also need to be familiar with the operation of a range of specialised mining equipment.
To become a mining engineer you need to study mining engineering at university.
Curtin University offers a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining Engineering) through the Western Australian School of Mines (WASM). The degree takes 4 years to complete, with the first 2 years available at both the Bentley and Kalgoorlie campuses, and the final two years at Kalgoorlie only. Completion of this degree will qualify you for professional recognition with the Australian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy (AusIMM) and Engineers Australia.
The University of Western Australia also offers a Bachelor of Engineering (Mining Engineering). This course is offered at the university's Crawley campus and takes 4 years to complete. After graduating you will qualify for professional recognition with Engineers Australia.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer. You spend most of your time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider of your choice. They will assess your skills and when you are competent in all areas, you will be awarded a nationally recognised qualification.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. You generally start your school based apprenticeship by attending school three days a week, spending one day at a registered training organisation and one day at work. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you get a full-time apprenticeship you can apply to leave school before reaching the school leaving age.
If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.
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If you think you already have some of the skills or competencies, obtained either through non-formal or informal learning, you may be able to gain credit through recognition of prior learning.